Nigel Farage has angrily hit back at former BBC presenter Emily Maitlis, accusing her of peddling “mistruths” about his controversial “debanking” by Coutts in the summer.
The former Brexit Party leader was responding to remarks by the LBC presenter on X, formerly Twitter in the wake of a speech by Chancellor Jeremy Hunt at the Conservative Party conference in Manchester.
Mr Hunt pledged to change the law to prevent people being de-banked for having the “wrong political views” – prompting Ms Maitlis to accuse him of “ignoring the findings of the report by financial authorities who reported last month this was NOT the reason behind the Farage Coutts closure”.
Minutes later, Mr Farage – who was himself in attendence at the conference today – posted: “Let’s look at the facts.
“I was ‘exited’ by Coutts because I did not ‘align with the values of the bank’.
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“The FCA investigation last month did not look at my case. Please retract your mistruth.”
Shortly afterwards, Mr Farage retweeted a post by Simon Cooke which said: “Shockingly bad journalism here.
“The financial authorities literally didn’t look at the Farage case. 30 seconds on Google told me that.”
The UK’s financial watchdog, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), is currently reviewing the treatment of so-called politically exposed persons (PEPs) and their families, who are subject to extra checks by banking providers.
The FCA said it wants to make sure financial firms are being “proportionate” in their risk assessments of PEPs.
Last month, the FCA said it found no firm evidence of banks denying people access to accounts over the past year due to their political views.
In its preliminary review of the issue, it said data submitted to it by banks and others suggests that no firms had closed an account primarily because of customers’ political beliefs.
But it admitted that the information collected was limited and needs further investigation.
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However, there is no indication that Mr Farage’s case was considered by the FCA at all.
It is already illegal for financial institutions to discriminate against customers on the basis of lawful freedom of expression.
But the Treasury moved to tighten the rules on account closures earlier this year after former Mr Farage said Coutts bank, owned by NatWest Group, had moved to shut down his account unfairly.
Dame Alison Rose, NatWest CEO, and Peter Flavel, chief executive of Coutts itself, quit in the wake of revelations in July.
Speaking after both resigned, Mr Farage said: “How somebody who ran regulation of financial services could think it right initially, to back someone who’d broken plenty of the rules, including the most fundamental rule of banking, which is client confidentiality, is quite beyond me.”
Speaking of Dame Alison, he continued: “He then said that she’d been a great leader, which means of course, that she gets her payoff, she’ll get £2.43 million pounds as a payoff, well done Sir Howard.
“But worst of all, what absolutely puts the tin lid on the whole thing, and why Sir Howard Davies has to go, is he’s announced a review, there will be a review into why my accounts were closed, and the leak, and that review will settle the matter.”
Speaking to the conference yesterday, Mr Hunt said: “Nobody should have their bank account closed because somebody else decides they’re not politically correct.
“We’ll tighten the law to stop people being debanked for the wrong political views.”
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