Nigel Farage says Coutts manager should go
Bank chief Dame Alison Rose was clinging on to her £5 million a year job after admitting she leaked details about Nigel Farage’s account.
Furious senior Tories backed the former Brexit party leader in calling for the NatWest chief executive to quit after her astonishing admission that she was the source for an inaccurate BBC story about his finances.
Mr Farage said the banking boss was “unfit” for her current role at the bank, which is the parent company of Coutts where he held an account, after breaking client confidentiality.
Speaking on his GB News show, he said: “This is a serious breach. I hadn’t said to anybody that the bank I was having trouble with was Coutts… She chose to put it into the public domain with Simon Jack. She broke an essential confidence.”
Mr Farage also called for Sir Howard Davies, chairman of the NatWest Group, and Peter Flavel, the CEO of Coutts, to quit.
READ MORE Farage calls on Alison Rose and Peter Flavel to resign over Coutts bank scandal
He said there had been a “complete failure” to abide by rules set by the Financial Conduct Authority on integrity.
He added: “I think they are doing their best to prop up Alison Rose, her remuneration will be hit. She might not get the £5.2 million she got last year. But it is perfectly clear to me that Peter Flavel, the CEO of Coutts, has not done his job at all.
“It is perfectly clear to me that Alison Rose is unfit to be the CEO of a big group and that Howard Davies, who is supposed to be in charge of governance, has failed as well.
“Given that we have a 39 percent stake in this, we the great British public, I think at that investor statement on Friday morning, the Government ought to say we have no confidence in this management. Frankly, I think they should all go and that is my conclusion from what we’ve learned this afternoon.”
Tory former Cabinet minister David Davis said Dame Alison has “little choice but to resign”, adding Mr Farage’s rights had been “trampled on in a pretty spectacular way”.
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He said: “I’m afraid I think that Dame Alison Rose has little choice but to resign. And frankly, I’m astonished that the board of directors indicated full confidence in her. If the head of a bank that I was a big shareholder of did this, I would say immediately ‘I am sorry, it’s over, find a successor’.”
Mr Davis went on: “She should have known better than anybody. So there’s no doubt in my mind. Similarly, I think the position of the chief executive is looking pretty tenuous. I mean, if you don’t get an answer from him before Friday, I would imagine that a great deal of the newspaper and media questioning of him will be precisely about your case. And so it should be because again, he has responsibilities.”
Conservative MP Alexander Stafford said: “Absolutely disgraceful that she was briefing and leaking financial details. This breaks all moral, ethical and banking codes. If she has a shred of decency she would do the honourable thing and resign.”
Tory Jonathan Gullis said: “Dame Alison Rose must quit immediately. This is a very serious breach of GDPR. Customers’ confidence in Dame Alison will be shot to pieces.
“As a NatWest customer, I no longer have confidence in her leadership or the boards, as they shamelessly protect/excuse her behaviour. Nigel Farage has been fully vindicated in calling out this ‘morality policing’ from NatWest and Coutts.”
Mark Jenkinson, Tory MP for Workington, said the bank CEO has “blatantly breached” FCA rules.
He added: “I’d expect her to sack anyone more junior than her who’s done the same, and I expect she’ll want to save some face and make a swift decision herself.”
Tory deputy chairman Lee Anderson also suggested the NatWest boss should resign.
Sir James Duddridge, a member of the Commons Treasury Select Committee, said the banking chief’s time “is out”.
Despite calls for her to appear before the top MP committee, Sir James told how there is no point as “she’ll be gone” by the time Parliament reconvenes in September.
The former banker added that if any of Ms Rose’s bank managers had copied her actions and briefed a journalist about a private client over drinks they would have been sacked.
Conservative Party vice chair for business Saqib Bhatti: “While it’s not for politicians to determine what the company should do, her position would appear to now be untenable.”
Mr Farage won an apology from the BBC over its inaccurate story suggesting the closure of his account was because he lacked adequate funds rather than his political views.
The statement only came after he acquired dossiers indicating that his bank account was shut by Coutts because it found his public statements did “not align” with its values.
The board of NatWest Group on Tuesday said it retained “full confidence” in Dame Alison after she admitted to a “serious error of judgment” in discussing Mr Farage’s relationship with Coutts.
Sir Howard said the bank’s chief executive “should not have spoken in the way she did” and indicated she would lose some of her annual bonus.
The BBC’s business editor Simon Jack also apologised, saying the reporting had been based on information from a “trusted and senior source” but “turned out to be incomplete and inaccurate”.
Dame Alison said she was the source of the story and admitted that she made “a serious error of judgment” during her discussions with Mr Jack.
She said: “I recognise that in my conversations with Simon Jack of the BBC, I made a serious error of judgment in discussing Mr Farage’s relationship with the bank.”
However, she said that when she disclosed the information about the former MEP’s banking relationship, she believed it to be already public knowledge.
She said: “Believing it was public knowledge, I confirmed that Mr Farage was a Coutts customer and that he had been offered a NatWest bank account. Alongside this, I repeated what Mr Farage had already stated, that the bank saw this as a commercial decision.
“I would like to emphasise that in responding to Mr Jack’s questions I did not reveal any personal financial information about Mr Farage. City minister Andrew Griffiths will meet the bosses of banks today (Wednesday) following the scandal of account closures owned by “politically exposed people”.
He wrote to 19 banks, building societies and digital challengers on Monday asking for a roundtable at the earlier opportunity.
The scandal over Mr Farage’s account led to immediate reforms by the Government in an attempt to clamp down on “unfair” banking practices.
The Treasury said banks will be forced to explain and delay any decision to shut an account. Notice time given to customers will be raised from one month to 90 days.
Sheldon Mills, FCA executive director, consumers and competition, said: “We have raised concerns with NatWest Group and Coutts about the allegations relating to account closures and breach of customer confidentiality since these came to light.”
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