Skip to comments.Reuters 'Sorry' For Cribbing Figures
Posted on 11/05/2003 6:37:54 PM PST by blam
Reuters 'sorry' for cribbing figures
By David Litterick (Filed: 06/11/2003)
Reuters was forced into a humbling apology yesterday as it emerged that the news provider had published official statistics early after one of its journalists got the information from a junior Treasury official with whom he shares a flat.
Last month, Reuters published the September retail sales figures, which showed higher than expected growth of 0.6pc, an hour before their formal publication. The news increased speculation about an interest rate rise and hit the gilt futures market.
It is understood a Reuters trainee journalist had a conversation with his Treasury official flatmate the night before they were published. His flatmate told him he had the figures in his possession.
The journalist later sneaked a look at the data, which was on Treasury notepaper, when his flatmate was not around. He then phoned his supervisor at Reuters.
The company said in a statement: "Although the supervisor established the validity of the information, he didn't establish that the information had been properly obtained." It then published the figures an hour early quoting "sources familar with the numbers".
Instead of defending its scoop, the company apologised yesterday, saying it expected its journalists to behave "ethically and with integrity". Both the journalist and the supervisor have been disciplined but have kept their jobs.
It was not clear last night whether the journalist and the Treasury official remain flatmates, or indeed whether they are still friends. The official had no knowledge his flatmate had looked at the papers.
A handful of ministers and officials at the Treasury receive advance copies of the figures to enable them to prepare responses. The Treasury, which at the time denied any involvement, said yesterday it took the incident "extremely seriously" and would be "examining all its procedures to ensure that any repetition is avoided."
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