MOSCOW (Sputnik) — The Times suggested in an email to RT that last fall's story about a UK bank closing RT accounts in the country was published to serve the Russian state's narrative. The Times said that the letter from National Westminster Bank (NatWest) bank, cited by RT Editor-In-Chief Margarita Simonyan on her Twitter, was sent to a supplier of RT rather than the broadcaster itself, and that NatWest and the supplier eventually reached an agreement. The Times quoted Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov's criticism of the situation as an example of how wrong information appears to have been put into the public sphere.
"As you've apparently forgotten, here's a refresher: NatWest (which has a significant shareholding by the UK government) provided RT’s principle UK banking facility to Russia Today TV UK Ltd, the production company for RT UK, which services the salaries of all RT UK staff and handles practically all other RT UK operations. Last October the bank informed the company that it is closing (not threatening to close) all of its accounts, and that the decision was final and not subject to redress – precisely what Margarita Simonyan said in her post," the broadcaster said in a response to The Times.
RT added that the information was made into a story because it was true and newsworthy.
"But we look forward to the Times' valiant effort in turning these facts into fakes; it wouldn't be the first time," the broadcaster said.
In January, RT said that NatWest reviewed its decision and would retain the broadcaster's accounts. In March, Simonyan said RT was in consultations with other banks, when asked if RT had taken any precautions to avoid problems with their accounts in the future.
RT operates a number of cable and satellite television channels in a number of languages and is directed at a foreign audience. The channels provide 24-hour news coverage, as well as airing documentaries, talk shows and debates.