The Post Office ‘Horizon’ scandal, depicted brilliantly in ‘Mr Bates v The Post Office’, shows what can happen when big organisations try to cover up their mistakes and blame customers/employees when the real culprits, invariably senior executives, are allowed to walk away scot free with bonuses, share options and gold plated pension pots. And as part of the cover up good businesses are destroyed; ordinary people suffer mental and physical breakdowns and financial ruin. The bigwigs always seem to escape accountability.
After a 7-year investigation, the HBOS Reading scandal is still ongoing.
To recap, the fraud involved bankers and business consultants who used reckless credit policies to steal money from HBOS in the process wrecking scores of businesses. Some 200 business owners and their families were financially ruined by the fraud. A number of those customers have since died without knowing exactly what went on and who was responsible. Six people including Bank employees were jailed in January 2017. Ironically, all of them have now been released.
Lloyds was accused of covering up the scandal. In April 2017, Lloyds appointed Dame Linda Dobbs, a former High Court judge, to investigate the Bank’s handling of the HBOS Reading fraud. Dame Linda has a team of 20+ barristers including two KCs (Kings Counsel) plus the services of a firm of solicitors but she’s so far produced absolutely nothing. Almost 7 years on and we are still no nearer knowing what went on in Reading and how much senior executives knew. Many of those executives have already left the Bank. Dame Linda has complained about getting evidence late and about witnesses not being prepared to answer questions or give statements. Lloyds should make sure that past and present executives/employees are engaging with the Dobbs Review and those that aren’t should have their share options clawed back immediately. That will concentrate minds.
To put it bluntly, it’s been a shambolic joke. 7-years! The Covid Inquiry will take less time. The only winners so far, and it’s the same with the Post Office scandal, are lawyers.
The Reading scandal is important because it involved people in senior management positions and we want to ensure that their actions are looked at properly and not swept under the carpet. The Union is involved in almost daily cases where Lloyds is quite willing to throw the book at junior members of staff for minor mistakes of no financial consequence, and we want to ensure that senior members of staff past and present are held to the same exacting standards.
We will be writing to Dame Linda Dobbs, again, asking for a publication date. If she can’t commit to a date, then we’ll contact ITV and Toby Jones because only then will things get moving.
We hope to return to this issue again, shortly. In the meantime, members with any questions on this Newsletter should contact the Union’s Advice Team on 01234 262868 (choose Option 1).
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