MPs also on trial at Diamond show

Bob Diamond being questioned by MPs on the Treasury select committee Image copyright PA
Image caption Bob Diamond was questioned for about two and a half hours

It was meant to be Bob Diamond in the dock but the MPs cross-examining him were also on trial.

The prime minister insists that a committee like today's and chaired by the same man will do a better job than a public inquiry chaired by a judge.

What today showed is that 14 individuals, with different interests, different levels of expertise and different political objectives cannot sustain a single line of inquiry.

The public queued for seats at the hearing but but many left after about half an hour when it became clear that this would not be much of a show.

David Cameron insists what matters is not the theatre, though, but a swift inquiry which can recommend practical changes in the law to be implemented within months.

Ed Miliband replies that a judicial inquiry could deliver that and go on to deliver something else - produce a sort of public reckoning with those who run the banks. At stake is something much bigger than the style of the inquiry. It is a fight over political reputations.

Labour say the Tories are the bankers' party. They reply that Labour had 13 years in government to regulate the banks and failed. The rest of us are simply spectators.