Bank of England refutes report of new notes depicting religious leaders

According to a article dated March 5, 2009, “A new British banknote featuring a portrait of the Chief Rabbi is to be issued later this year in an effort to literally 'restore faith in the economy'. Sir Jonathan Sacks is one of five senior religious leaders whose images will appear on UK currency as part of a series of measures to tackle the credit crunch. The initiative was announced by the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Bank of England this week.”

This “news” item struck me as highly unlikely, so I wrote to the Bank of England for confirmation or denial. As I suspected, the item is either false or was intended as satire. Here is the full response I received from Malcolm Shemmonds, a media representative at the BoE:

“I'm afraid that the news concerning this supposed new banknote issue by ourselves is totally untrue. There are no plans to circulate any new Bank of England notes in the immediate future. However, the Bank of England has a rolling banknote design programme and we may well decide to revise the design of our other notes in due course to reflect the same security features and theme (British historical figures) that have been incorporated within our current banknote series.

“By way of background, you may be interested to know that we decide whom to feature on our banknotes on the basis of an enduring contribution to the advancement of society. Having said that, the choice of whom to celebrate on the banknotes is never easy, and any candidate will naturally have both staunch supporters and detractors. The final choice of who appears on our notes rests with the Governor of the Bank of England.”