Why Does Barclays Talk About Bob Diamond Like A Wayward 16-year-Old ?

Bob Diamond has gone but the bickering continues. The latest sub-plot may be of interest only to addicts of the drama, but Hector Sants, former chief executive of the Financial Services Authority, is determined to be heard.

He takes issue with paragraph 116 of the Treasury select committee's report into the Libor scandal, where it is recorded that Barclays' dodgy submissions "were not raised by the FSA at that time [September 2010] as casting doubt on his [Diamond's] suitability as CEO." That's what Marcus Agius, Barclays' chairman, told the MPs.

But Sants reckons Agius has got his facts wrong. The FSA, says Sants, did consider the Libor investigation at the time but concluded it could not prejudge its outcome. Thus the FSA told Agius that it reserved the right to reassess Diamond's suitability for the top job upon completion of its investigation.

Are the two accounts really at odds? Not fundamentally. There was nothing factually incorrect in Agius's letter since the FSA had conceded that it would not prejudge the findings. On the other hand, Sants's touchiness is understandable since Agius could – and probably should – have volunteered the fact that the FSA reserved the right to change its mind. But there's no new scandal here.

Indeed, Diamond wasn't even forced out because of the Libor conclusions, when they finally came. His departure instead came when regulators, after a public outcry, told Agius they had lost faith in Diamond's ability to restore Barclays' battered reputation. The real mystery is why Agius took so long to understand that Diamond had to go.

On that score, outsiders will be more intrigued by the bizarre language used by Agius at the time of Diamond's appointment. His assessment, revealed in Wednesday's documents, reads like a public-school head teacher's report on a promising, but sometimes wayward, 16-year-old who is being given the chance to show his worth by becoming a prefect.

Bob is said to be a "very competitive" chap, but one who is expected to "mature and relax" into his new role with the help of John Varley, outgoing head-boy-cum-chief-executive, who will be on hand to "coach" him. In reality, Bob was a 59-year-old who had risen to the top of the cut-and-thrust world of investment banking. Very strange.

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article was written by Nils Pratley, for guardian.co.uk on Wednesday 19th September 2012 19.00 Europe/London

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