03/20/2013 09:08 am ET Updated May 20, 2013

London Evening Standard Leaks George Osbourne's Budget

By Rosalba O'Brien

LONDON (Reuters) - Details of Britain's market moving budget were published on the Internet by a reporter at a London newspaper minutes before the finance minister stood up to give his speech in parliament on Wednesday, prompting calls for an investigation from lawmakers.

A copy of the front page of the London Evening Standard, containing details of economic forecasts, tax changes and borrowing, was published on Twitter at least fifteen minutes before George Osborne rose to his feet.

Some opposition lawmakers waved copies of the page, which had been compiled with embargoed details of the speech, at Osborne while he spoke in the lower chamber of parliament, the House of Commons.

"He almost needn't have bothered coming to the House because the whole budget, including the market sensitive forecasts, were in the Standard before he rose to his feet," Ed Miliband, leader of the opposition Labour party, told Osborne.

"I'm sure he'll investigate and report back to the House," Miliband said.

Osborne's ministry was unavailable for immediate comment.

The newspaper's editor, Sarah Sands, apologized and said the paper's journalists were "devastated" that an embargo had been breached.

"An investigation is immediately underway into how this front page was made public and the individual who tweeted the page has been suspended while this takes place," Sands said.

Sands told the BBC that a young journalist had tweeted a copy of the front page.

The budget is supposed to be kept secret until the chancellor of the exchequer, as the finance minister is known in Britain, briefs parliament on its contents.

In 1947, Labour finance minister Hugh Dalton resigned after divulging details of his budget to a newspaper journalist before his statement to parliament.

(Reporting by Rosalba O'Brien, editing by Guy Faulconbridge and Jeremy Gaunt)



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