The editor of London’s Evening Standard has issued a “heartfelt apology” after details of yesterday’s Budget were revealed on Twitter before the Chancellor got up to speak.
A picture of the Standard’s front page, featuring details of planned changes in income tax thresholds, beer duty and fuel duty among other measures, appeared on the paper’s Twitter account shortly after midday.
A journalist at the paper has since been suspended over the leak which occurred around 20 minutes before George Osborne began his Commons statement.
The London daily may now face exclusion from the system of pre-Budget briefings designed to give evening papers and broadcasters advance details of the Chancellor’s plans under strict embargo.
Standard editor Sarah Sands said in a statement: “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.
“We have immediately reviewed our procedures. We are devastated that an embargo was breached and offer our heartfelt apologies.”
Political editor Joe Murphy, who wrote the front page story, also tweeted: “I wish to apologise for a very serious mistake by the @EveningStandard earlier which resulted in our front page being tweeted.
“We are so sorry to the House of Commons, to the Speaker and to the Chancellor for what happened. We shall be apologosing to them.”
Mr Osborne has now ordered Sir Nick Macpherson, the Treasury permanent secretary, to conduct a review of the pre-budget briefings.
The Treasury said in a statement: “The chancellor has asked the permanent secretary to conduct a review into the practice of the proactive pre-releasing of budget information under embargo on budget day which has operated in recent years. He has asked that this review report on the appropriateness of these arrangements.”
Labour MPs were waving copies of the front page around on the Commons benches at the start of Mr Osborne’s speech.
In 1947, the Labour Chancellor Hugh Dalton was forced to resign after giving another London evening newspaper details of the Budget while he was on his way to the House to deliver it.