Pollsters reject MPs’ claim on hedge fund work
POLLSTERS have hit back at MPs’ suggestions that they deliberately misled the UK public ahead of the Brexit vote in order to help boost hedge funds’ profits from shorting the pound.
In response to a letter from Nicky Morgan MP, chairman of the Treasury Select Committee, the UK’s most respected pollster Professor Sir John Curtice said she had cast doubt on the “professional integrity of the industry”.
He said her remarks needed to either be “substantiated or withdrawn”.
If private exit polls were banned this would impact not only hedge funds, but also banks, Sir John said. This would “debar” such institutions from being able to “mitigate risk”, he added.
Sir John is President of the British Polling Council, a voluntary organisation which enforces transparency.
Ms Morgan wrote to Sir John in September, claiming that pollsters’ work for hedge funds in the run-up to the referendum had raised serious questions about conflicts of interest. Mrs Morgan said polling companies had presented themselves as “neutral” but “behind the scenes, they are selling private polling data to hedge funds to make profitable trades”.
There were reported disparities between the publicly available polls issued by Ipsos MORI and YouGov, which suggested a remain vote had won in the aftermath of the referendum, and the position taken by some hedge funds against the pound.
Some fund managers, including Crispin Odey, made hundreds of millions betting against the pound on the expectation of a leave victory.
Rules proposed by the Treasury Select Committee would require polling companies to disclose, when publishing any polls, whether they have carried out similar work for her private clients.
Sir John denied polling was “necessarily” cross-subsidised by private work, though this formed much of the industry’s activity.