End of the road for the Boris and Bob Diamond show

Jun 28, 2012
Linda Palermo

The London mayor says the behaviour of 'dodgy' Barclays traders was 'almost certainly criminal'

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BOB DIAMOND is rapidly becoming public enemy number one as politicians line up to demand answers from the Barclays chief executive over the Libor scandal currently engulfing the bank.

In the watering-holes of Westminster at lunchtime today, few believed Diamond would see out the day. This was because Diamond, before becoming chief executive in 2011, oversaw the team at Barclays Capital where the offences took place between 2005 and 2009.

Tory MP Andrea Leadson today described the bank's behaviour as "systemic lying, cheating for their own gain, absolutely appalling behaviour" while George Osborne told the Commons the Barclays boss had "very serious questions to answer".

Another Tory MP, Conor Burns, has tweeted: "Barclays boss Bob Diamond must resign and the police should launch an immediate investigation and press charges if appropriate."

Most interesting has been the reaction of London mayor Boris Johnson who observed that the "very, very dodgy" behaviour of Barclays traders was "almost certainly criminal" and needed "proper investigation".

This marks a watershed in the long and close relationship between Johnson and Diamond. As the London political blogger Adam Bienkov pointed out this morning, those links resulted in the mayor selling the naming rights to his flagship cycling scheme to the bank for £25m back in May 2010.

Bienkov cites how shortly become Johnson became mayor in April 2008, Pippa Crerar, the London Evening Standard's City Hall editor, wrote that Diamond was to become a "key adviser" to Johnson, helping to run the Mayor's Fund, a multi-million pound scheme charged with giving money to some of London's poorest residents.

"The announcement came as a boost to Mr Johnson," Crerar wrote, "who has been under intense pressure to reveal who will advise him if he wins the mayoral election. The Tory candidate has faced regular charges of incompetence and the recruitment of such a heavyweight figure will provide welcome relief."

Fast forward a few months to September 2008, the height of the financial crisis, and Boris is waxing lyrical in his Telegraph column about the "neosocialist claptrap" of banker-bashers.

In December 2009, Diamond repays the compliment by pledging £1m of Barclays' money to the Mayor's Fund, noting the poverty near the firm's Canary Wharf HQ and declaring himself proud to be trustee of the fund.

A month later, Boris is back on the attack, urging Chancellor George Osborne to ditch a planned extension of Gordon Brown's supertax on bankers' bonuses.

A City Hall source told the Standar: "Boris is determined to highlight... that this tax is already having an adverse impact and should it become a more permanent feature of our tax system it would have an extremely devastating impact on London's long-term prosperity."

Mindful of the political climate, has the mayor finally cooled his ardour for Bob Diamond and his pals?

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