Monday, February 16, 2009


A lot of papers use "EXCLUSIVE" tags on stories to highlight a yarn they believe no one else has. My paper doesn't. I think most broadsheets in Ireland don't. I think the reasoning against using the tag is that every story, in theory, should be somewhat exclusive and there should be no need to shout about it.

It can also look daft putting an exclusive tag on a story if five other papers published on the same day have the same story. One of the most bizarre uses of "EXCLUSIVE" was the splash of this weekend's Sunday Independent. The paper "revealed" that Anglo Irish Bank loaned 300m euro to 10 individuals to buy its own shares. Some scoop eh?

Except the story looks remarkably similar to Tom Lyons' story published four weeks previously on the front page of the Sunday Times. It's also been reported in the Sunday Business Post and others like the Indo has also followed up and reported that it had been raised in an Oireachtas committee.

So the Sunday Independent report a four week old story like it's new. I don't get it.

Meanwhile we followed up on Tom's original story this weekend with a story revealing the regulator and other state bodies knew about the deal and gave it the OK.

The Regulator's response to the Sunday Times story can be seen here. This statement, issued on Sunday, is a classic case of what is known as a non-denial denial. The Regulator says it rejects the story but then in the second line of its own statement it contradicts itself and admits "the Financial Regulator and other authorities were aware of a large CFD position held in Anglo Irish Bank shares in 2008 and steps being taken to have it unwound".

Brian Cowen confirmed today in the Dail that the Reglator knew about the deal and approved it based on legal advice from, guess who, Anglo's solicitors.

"Mr Cowen said the Financial Regulator got legal advice from Anglo's advisors that this was a legal transaction and that was accepted at the time. "

This story will run and run. Click here for a full overview of the state's involvement in this mess from the Sunday Times last week.

Meanwhile, my favourite story from last week came via the Comptroller & Auditor General Report on the cost of the tribunals which is essential reading for us tribunal nerds. The report was published on Thursday and got extensive coverage in Friday's newspapers mainly due to the overall cost estimated to top 430m euro.

Thankfully there was some detail left over for the Sunday papers including the fact that Jerry Healy and John Coughlan have earned 1 million euro more than they should have in the last six years due to a typo. The Moriarty Tribunal has at least six months left in it so it really is the typo that keeps on giving. By the way this wasn't an exclusive. John Burke in the Business Post also spotted this detail buried in the report.

Finally, I wrote about a wave of Pyrite cases that are coming down the line for developers who used infill which contains this material which allegedly causes cracking in the walls and floors of homes. You can tell from the solicitor's letter we received from Logancourt that developers are not keen to be publicly associated with pyrite.

If your house is affected by pyrite though and you're not involved in the Menolly cases that have been rolling on for some time then I'd be very interested in talking to you. So by all means email me.

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