The Evil Diaries: “Witchfinder General”

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The Evil Diaries: “Witchfinder General”

In 1968 I saw Witchfinder General, which covered some obsessive puritan who went round fingering alleged witches and then killing them off. I took it as a warning as to what can happen when vile regulators are given excessive authority. And I mention this since I reckon that a later generation of this lot have been having a go at Tom Hayes, now 35, who was yesterday awarded a fourteen year sentence for fixing Libor.

Libor stands for London Interbank Offered Rate and it is not Fibor where, for instance the ‘F’ stands for Frankfurt and it is not Tibor where the ‘T’ stands for Tokyo. Put another way, Libor is worth protecting as a marketing tool in which the UK has a clear financial interest.

But, true and inescapable as that is, society is not therefore entitled to hound a young man doing his best and believing as he did so that he was engaged in well understood and therefore accepted practice even if it was sharp.

Mr Hayes was accused of fraud. But one of the first features of an aspiring fraudster is that his fraudulent conduct is not widely known by others. Indeed, obtaining a pecuniary advantage by deception (to give fraud its full title) cannot occur if there is little or no deception. And it is clear that Mr Hayes’s contemporaries at work and his line managers knew what he was up to. Given this it is hard to finger anybody.

Indeed the authorities’ conduct stinks. Take David Green of the SFO: he referred to Mr Hayes as a banker when he was nothing of the sort. He was just a chap who worked for a bank. So why did Mr Green so deploy his dogwhistle? The answer is simple: there are a further eleven accused to be processed and Mr Green seeks to call in aid the public’s hatred. By calling Mr Hayes a banker Mr Green assists Mr Green’s pathetic misuse of language. It may be effective but it is nothing to do with justice.

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LSL (LSL), the estate agents, are, at 350p, down 6% as I type. There is nothing in LSL’s statement today to offer succour to shareholders of Foxtons (FOXT). Indeed, quite the reverse.

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Finally, the chairman of the lifetime cancellation of work corporation got me to go long USD versus CHF. Now a buy at 0.9681, all yours.

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