(Reuters): - Barclays Plc Chief Executive Bob Diamond quit on Tuesday under a barrage of fire from politicians, the highest-profile casualty of an interest rate-rigging scandal that spans more than a dozen major banks across the world.

"The external pressure placed on Barclays has reached a level that risks damaging the franchise - I cannot let that happen," said Diamond, 61.

His resignation was a sudden reversal, hours after he said it was down to him to clear up the mess at Britain's third-largest bank, fined nearly half a billion dollars for its part in manipulating a global benchmark interest rate.

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