BBC Apologizes to Nigel Farage on Inaccurate Bank Canceling Story

July 26th, 2023 1:16 PM

On July 4, the BBC published a story, "Nigel Farage bank account shut for falling below wealth limit, source tells BBC," which countered British Brexit leader Nigel Farage's claim that Coutts bank closed his account for political reasons. It turned out that Farage was correct about the real reason why his bank account was closed and to its credit, BBC not only updated a correction at the top of the story but on Monday issued a full apology to Farage. 

Here is some the original BBC story which was updated on July 21:

Nigel Farage fell below the financial threshold required to hold an account at Coutts, the prestigious private bank for the wealthy, the BBC has been told.

It is understood he was subsequently offered a standard account at NatWest which owns Coutts.

Mr Farage has said he believes his account is being shut for political reasons and he has since been turned down by nine other lenders.

But a source familiar with Coutts' move said it was a "commercial" decision.

...Mr Farage recently posted a six-minute video on Twitter blaming "serious political persecution" from an anti-Brexit banking industry.

He said that losing his bank account was the equivalent of being a "non-person" and that the decision may "fundamentally affect my future career and whether I can even go on staying living here in this country".

Speaking to BBC Radio 4's the World at One on Tuesday, Mr Farage said that Coutts had given him "no reason whatsoever" when they wrote to say that his accounts would be closed, and he was given two months to find a new bank.

And here is the July 21 update at the top of the story which, unlike many corrections in the media, BBC made no attempt to bury: 

Update 21st July 2023: We acknowledge that the information we reported -- that Coutts' decision on Nigel Farage's account did not involve considerations about his political views -- turned out not to be accurate. Since this article was originally published on the 4th July, Mr. Farage submitted a subject access request to Coutts bank and obtained a report from the bank's reputational risk committee. While it mentioned commercial considerations, the document also said the committee did not think continuing to have Mr. Farage as a client was "compatible with Coutts given his publicly-stated views that were at odds with our position as an inclusive organisation". We have amended this article's headline and copy to make clear that the details about the closure of Nigel Farage's bank account came from a source.

While many media outlets might have just issued such an update, the BBC also prominently published a full apology, labeled as such, to Farage, "Nigel Farage: BBC apologises to Farage over account closure story."

The BBC has apologised to Nigel Farage over its inaccurate report about why his account at Coutts bank was closed.

On 4 July, the BBC reported Mr. Farage no longer met the financial requirements for Coutts, citing a source familiar with the matter.

The former UKIP leader later obtained a Coutts report which indicated his political views were also considered.

Mr. Farage said he accepted the apologies "with good grace", but said questions for Coutts remained.

He thanked BBC News CEO Deborah Turness - who has written to him - and business editor Simon Jack - who has tweeted - for their apologies.

"It's not often that the BBC apologise. But for the BBC to apologise, I'm very, very pleased," Mr. Farage said.

Note to American media: This is how corrections and apologies for poor or fake news reporting should be done. Upfront and not buried.