When a bank goes to court to get a court order to prevent a newspaper frm publishing something, two things are immediately obvious. First, the newspaper must be onto a juicy scandal. Second, the bank is hiding something nasty.
Barclays Bank obtained a court order early today banning the Guardian from publishing documents which showed how the bank set up companies to avoid hundreds of millions of pounds in tax.
The gagging order was granted by Mr Justice Ouseley after Barclays complained about seven documents on the Guardian's website which had been leaked to the Liberal Democrats' deputy leader, Vince Cable.The internal Barclays memos – leaked by a Barclays whistleblower – showed executives from SCM, Barclays's structured capital markets division, seeking approval for a 2007 plan to sink more than $16bn (£11.4bn) into US loans.
Tax benefits were to be generated by an elaborate circuit of Cayman islands companies, US partnerships and Luxembourg subsidiaries. The documents had been leaked to Cable by a former employee of the bank, who wrote a long account of how the bank works. The anonymous whistleblower wrote to Cable: "The last year has seen the global taxpayer having to rescue the global financial system. The taxpayer has already had a gun put to their head and been told to pay up or watch the financial system and life as we know it disappear into a black hole.