More trouble for NatWest as privacy regulator probes whether bank boss broke confidentiality rules amid row over Nigel Farage’s Coutts account
- NatWest to be investigated by Information Commissioner following Farage row
- Commissioner John Edwards said bank duty of confidentiality over 100 years old
NatWest may have broken confidentiality rules when former chief executive Dame Alison Rose shared private information about Nigel Farage’s Coutts bank account with the BBC, the privacy regulator has said.
The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) is examining whether the actions of the ex-boss of the major lender – who dramatically resigned late last night – would ‘constitute a serious data breach’ or ‘disregard client confidentiality’.
It comes as Mr Farage called for more senior NatWest figures – namely chairman Sir Howard Davies and Coutts chief executive Peter Flavel – to follow Dame Alison Rose out of the door as part of a proposed ‘cultural change’ across the sector.
An ICO spokesman said: ‘We can confirm we have received a complaint and are currently assessing the information provided and making necessary enquiries. We are aware of Dame Alison Rose’s statement and will consider it as part of our enquiries.’
Information Commissioner John Edwards added: ‘The banking duty of confidentiality is over a hundred years old and it is clear that it would not permit the discussion of a customer’s personal information with the media.
‘We trust banks with our money and with our personal information. Any suggestion that this trust has been betrayed will be concerning for a bank’s customers and for regulators like myself.’
NatWest may have broken confidentiality rules when former chief executive Dame Alison Rose shared private information about Nigel Farage’s (pictured) Coutts bank account with the BBC, the privacy regulator has said
The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) is examining whether the actions of the ex-boss of the major lender Dame Alison Rose (pictured) – who dramatically resigned late last night – would ‘constitute a serious data breach’ or ‘disregard client confidentiality’
Today NatWest shares sank to the bottom of the FTSE 100 – declining as much as 3.7 per cent and wiping £850 million off the value of the bank, which is still 38 per cent owned by the taxpayer.
Dame Alison’s resignation came hot on the heels of an emergency board meeting late last night after an extraordinary intervention from the PM and Chancellor, who made clear their ‘significant concerns’.
Former Ukip leader Mr Farage branded Dame Alison ‘unfit’ to remain in post after she admitted leaking private and inaccurate information about his Coutts bank account to the BBC.
He has called for others at NatWest – especially those who backed her just hours before she resigned – to be held accountable for the scandal, which saw false information about Mr Farage’s ‘de-banking’ being leaked to the BBC.
Mr Farage said this morning: ‘Dame Alison Rose has gone. Others must follow.
‘I hope that this serves as a warning to the banking industry.
‘We need both cultural and legal changes to a system that has unfairly shut down many thousands of innocent people. ‘I will do my best to be their voice.
‘I think any board member that endorsed that statement last night, where they said “yes, she breached confidentiality, but she can stay in her post” – frankly, I think the whole board needs to go.’
Mr Farage has also taken aim at Mr Flavel for not responding to any of his three letters since first writing to him in May.
But Treasury minister Andrew Griffith said Sir Howard, who has already announced he is stepping down in 2024, didn’t need to go immediately.
‘There’s already a search under way for his replacement,’ he said. ‘We should let that continue and then in due course, obviously, the bank will need to appoint a new chief executive.’
Mr Griffith today hauled in the UK’s largest banks – including NatWest – to make clear the Government’s position on protecting consumers from being ‘de-banked’ from their political views.
He said after the meeting: ‘It is right that the NatWest CEO has resigned. This would never have happened if NatWest had not taken it upon itself to withdraw a bank account due to someone’s lawful political views. That was and is always unacceptable.
‘I hope the whole financial sector learns from this incident. Its role is to serve customers well and fairly – not to tell them how or what to think.’
Former Ukip leader Mr Farage branded Dame Alison ‘unfit’ to remain in post after she admitted leaking private and inaccurate information about his Coutts bank account to the BBC
Earlier a source close to the Prime Minister said Dame Alison, who is now no longer a member of Mr Sunak’s Business Council, had ‘done the right thing in resigning’.
They added: ‘Everyone would expect people in public life – whether that’s in a business leadership role or otherwise – to act responsibly and with integrity.’
Policing minister Chris Philp added: ‘It’s right that she resigned. It’s fairly clear that she passed on confidential information about a bank client, Nigel Farage, to a journalist. It turns out that information was also inaccurate.
‘And I think it’s also wrong in the first place, that somebody was denied banking services simply because of their political views. We believe in free speech and freedom of political opinions in this country.’
Source: Read Full Article