UK budget leaked on Internet minutes before speech starts

LONDON Wed Mar 20, 2013 6:39pm IST

Britain's Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, holds up his budget case for the cameras as he stands outside number 11 Downing Street, before delivering his budget to the House of Commons, in central London March 20, 2013. REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth

Britain's Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, holds up his budget case for the cameras as he stands outside number 11 Downing Street, before delivering his budget to the House of Commons, in central London March 20, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Stefan Wermuth

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LONDON (Reuters) - British finance minister George Osborne's market sensitive statement to parliament on the budget was leaked on the internet minutes before his speech started.

A copy of what appeared to be the front page of the London Evening Standard, with full details of economic forecasts and changes to taxes, appeared on the blog of political commentator Guido Fawkes at least fifteen minutes ahead of Osborne's speech on Wednesday.

The newspaper's political editor Joe Murphy apologised for the "very serious mistake" in a tweet, as copies of the paper's front page were seen being circulated in the House of Commons as Osborne spoke.

The leak comes at a sensitive time between press and political relations in Britain, with a new system intended to regulate the country's scandal-hungry press agreed on Monday.

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

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