Bank of England Governor Andrew Bailey said he would look into how The Sun newspaper was able to report that the central bank would expand its asset purchase programme by 150 billion pounds ($196 billion), hours before it was officially announced.
Leaks of BoE policy decisions are almost unheard of, but a series of government decisions on COVID measures, including economic support, have been reported in British newspapers ahead of their official announcement.
“Yes, we will look into it,” Bailey told reporters when asked about the Sun report in a news conference after the BoE had officially announced the quantitative easing decision.
In a report first published online around 2130 GMT, The Sun said that unspecified sources had told it the BoE’s stimulus would be larger than the 100 billion pounds largely expected by economists and was “likely to be around 150 billion pounds”.
The same article also said finance minister Rishi Sunak would broaden job furlough support in a statement to parliament also due on Thursday.
Before the announcement of the BoE decision at 0700 GMT, only the central bank and Britain’s finance ministry would officially have known the decision.
A finance ministry representative sits in on deliberations of the BoE’s Monetary Policy Committee, and Sunak must formally approve expanded asset purchases.
Michael Hewson, chief market analyst at brokers CMC Markets, said the apparent leak was “extremely concerning” and that there needed to be a full inquiry.
“These policy decisions are important macroeconomic events, and given the Bank of England also acts as a regulator, it’s bang out of order,” he said.
Last month Britain’s Financial Conduct Authority concluded there had been no misconduct when a company contracted by the BoE to help provide video feeds of its public news conferences also sold traders slightly faster audio of the same event.
The BoE said its staff should have spotted what it viewed as misuse of its broadcast feeds sooner, and barred the business from working with it in future.