Media 67: mainstream media highlight bank’s decision to close RT, but not the retraction
The BBC recently reported that NatWest – part of the RBS group – wrote to RT’s London office saying: “We have recently undertaken a review of your banking arrangements with us and reached the conclusion that we will no longer provide these facilities.”
A letter posted online by the channel warns that banking facilities will be “cancelled and closed” on 12 December. RBS Group was reported to have said that the decision to suspend banking services to RT was final and not up for discussion:
“We assure you that we have only reached this decision after careful consideration, however our decision is final and we are not prepared to enter into any discussion in relation to it.” No reason was given.
RT, which is run by the Russian government, has – like British state radio – previously been accused of biased reporting
RT used Twitter to announce that its British bank account was being closed, adding sarcastically: “Praise be to freedom of speech!”
The Times has reported that RBS withdrew its planned action after Moscow claimed it would freeze the BBC’s finances in Russia and report Britain to the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe, for breaching commitments to freedom of speech.
The Russian embassy said: “We are concerned over the said decision and the pressure exercised against Russian news outlets in UK. That is an outrage.” It added: “The Russian side will request explanations, including as regards UK’s compliance with OSCE and other norms guaranteeing freedom of speech.”
NatWest – more than 70% owned by the taxpayer – has now withdrawn its planned action and sources at the Treasury have distanced themselves from the bank’s decision.