E-i-C Blog

Nine questions for the Telegraph and HSBC

A month after explosive allegations about advertisers' influence over the UK Telegraph's editorial decisions, the paper has still failed to answer serious questions.

Mary Fitzgerald headshot in circle, small
Mary Fitzgerald
17 March 2015

One month ago today, we published Peter Oborne’s allegations that Britain’s Daily Telegraph has suppressed negative news about HSBC, one of its major advertisers – and that the paper has let advertising priorities shape some of its editorial judgements.

The Telegraph was quick to issue a public statement denouncing this “astonishing and unfounded attack, full of inaccuracy and innuendo". However, one month on, they are yet to provide any evidence which disproves Oborne’s claims.

Here are nine key questions that the Telegraph and HBSC (who also declined to comment) must now answer:

For the Telegraph:

  1. Did HSBC’s suspension of advertising with the Telegraph in 2013 affect subsequent editorial coverage of the bank?

  2. Why was Harry Wilson’s article alleging a ‘black hole’ in HSBC accounts removed from the Telegraph website after just a few hours?

  3. Why did lawyers engaged by the Telegraph’s owners, the Channel Island-based Barclay brothers, become involved in the paper’s 2012 investigation into HSBC accounts held in Jersey – and what was the nature of their involvement?

  4. Why were Telegraph reporters working on that 2012 HSBC investigation ordered to destroy all materials relating to that investigation?

  5. On 19th February, the Telegraph promised new guidelines on how editorial and commercial staff should “co-operate”. Will these guidelines be made public, and if so when?


  1. Did HSBC have any role in the removal of Harry Wilson’s article on the Telegraph website?

  2. Why did HSBC decide to suspend advertising with the Telegraph in 2013?

  3. Did HSBC recently ‘pause’ advertising with the Guardian newspaper while discussions about the damaging revelations in that paper’s ‘HSBC files’ were ongoing, and if so why?

  4. What are HSBC’s guidelines on dealing with negative coverage in media outlets that carry HSBC advertising or sponsorship?

If the Telegraph and HSBC are still hoping this will go away, they are wrong. They owe these answers to Telegraph readers, first and foremost, but also to anyone who believes that a functioning democracy needs a free press.

If you agree that readers should have more information, choices and power, please support our work here. Thank you.

Had enough of ‘alternative facts’? openDemocracy is different Join the conversation: get our weekly email


We encourage anyone to comment, please consult the oD commenting guidelines if you have any questions.
Audio available Bookmark Check Language Close Comments Download Facebook Link Email Newsletter Newsletter Play Print Share Twitter Youtube Search Instagram WhatsApp yourData