Debanking review

‘No evidence’ of political discrimination in Farage row

Nigel Farage at Edinburgh rally
Nigel Farage saw his account closed (pic: Terry Murden)

A review into the Nigel Farage ‘debanking’ row has found no evidence of political discrimination in the closure of customer accounts at NatWest’s private banking arm Coutts.

Law firm Travers Smith looked at 84 customer account closures cases over a two-year period to the end of July after the former UKIP Party leader’s account was cancelled.

Royal Bank of Scotland owner NatWest said in a statement: “The report confirms that decision-making was consistent with relevant standards and otherwise appropriate and that there was no evidence of discrimination due to political views or affiliations, or any other protected characteristic.”

It said there were several areas where Coutts’ policies and procedures regarding customer “exit decisions” had been identified and it would implement all recommendations.

They included guidance on how the bank communicates with customers regarding such decisions.

An initial review had found shortcomings in the way Farage’s account at Coutts had been shut. The subsequent row led to the departure of the bank’s chief executive Dame Alison Rose and Coutts boss Peter Flavel.

Mohammad Syed, Chief Executive of Coutts, said: “Following the publication of the Phase 1 reports in October, we recognised the need to improve our customer account closure processes and those improvements are already well under way.

“Although Travers Smith confirm that, in general, decisions were appropriate and that there was no evidence of discrimination, it is clear there are lessons to be learned.

“This report reaffirms that there were a number of shortcomings in our approach to account closures at Coutts and, in particular, in the quality and consistency of our communications. The experience of some of our customers fell short of what they should expect, and we apologise to them.

“We are committed to implementing all of the recommendations made by Travers Smith, including comprehensively reviewing and updating exit and communication processes, so that we deliver a better, more consistent experience for all our customers.”

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