NatWest admits serious failings over Nigel Farage’s bank account closure

NatWest Group's decision to close Nigel Farage's Coutts account showed “serious failings” in its treatment of the politician, an independent investigation has found.

But the inquiry also concluded that the move to close the former Ukip leader's bank account was both a legal and primarily a commercial decision.

Law firm Travers Smith – asked to review the banking giant in the wake of the Farage debanking saga – found the main failings were in Coutts' handling of confidential information.

“Coutts considered that its relationship with Mr Farage was commercially unviable because they were significantly loss-making,” it said.

Mr Farage claims his account was closed because of his political beliefs. The Brexit campaigner has called for NatWest to cut former boss Dame Alison Rose's compensation – accusing her of overseeing a “woke” culture at the bank.

Dame Alison resigned earlier this year after admitting a “serious error of judgement” in discussing Mr Farage's relationship with Coutts, which is owned by the NatWest Group, with a BBC reporter.

The latest report follows a finding by the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) that Dame Alison had breached Mr Farage's data protection rights when she spoke about him to the BBC reporter.

In an angry lashing out at the bank earlier this week, Mr Farage revealed a raft of internal documents he obtained – which refer to him as “wounded”, “programmed” and “stupid”.

Mr Farage was also described in one of the emails as a “terrible human being”, while another said they would have paid a substantial sum to be the one to tell the GB News presenter his account had been closed.

Nigel Farage says ex-NatWest chief pursued ‘awakening agenda'

(PA File)

Mr Farage said Dame Alison had “dragged her name in the mud” and introduced an “awakening agenda” to the bank, as well as breaching data protection laws by discussing his account with the BBC.

The former Ukip leader and GB News presenter added: “Rewarding these failures with a huge sum of money would be wrong. It is clear that, for some staff at NatWest, my withdrawal was a big joke.”

The Travers Smith report is the first stage of the inquiry commissioned by the NatWest board in July.

Responding to the latest findings, NatWest chairman Sir Howard Davies said: “This report shows a series of serious failings in the treatment of Mr Farage.

“Although Travers Smith confirms the legal basis for the decision to leave, the findings point to clear shortcomings in the way it was reached, as well as failures in the way it was communicated with and in relation to client privacy.”

The NatWest boss added: “We once again apologize to Mr Farage for his behaviour. His experience falls short of the standards any customer should expect.”

The City's regulator, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), said the latest report “has highlighted potential regulatory breaches and a number of areas for improvement”.

The report comes at a sensitive time for NatWest, which is due to report quarterly results on Friday.

The bank's board is also due to discuss her severance package, which is said to be more than £10m in salary, shares and bonuses.

Dame Alison's representative has been contacted for comment.