- In the interview Edmonds warned Lloyds that he is planning a long fight
- He says HBOS had a concerted plan to run his business into the ground
- The entertainer has also set up a website to publicise his claims against the bank
Television presenter Noel Edmonds has secured litigation funding for his £300 million action against Lloyds as he steps up his campaign against the bank’s treatment of small businesses a decade ago.
In a wide-ranging interview with The Mail on Sunday, Edmonds revealed he had tried to talk to Mark Dobson, who used to be his business banker at HBOS. Dobson was jailed earlier this year for fraud. ‘He wouldn’t agree for me to see him,’ Edmonds said.
Six people were sent to prison for frauds which targeted businesses banking at the branch of HBOS in Reading, Berkshire. Small businesses were forced by corrupt managers to pay huge fees to a consultancy firm. The consultants were bribing the managers with luxury trips and sex parties to push business their way.
Determined: Noel Edmonds is challenging Lloyds over his lost millions
Edmonds said he believes the dishonest handling of the finances of small firms was worse and more widespread than previously realised. He pointed out that his company had not had any connection with the Reading branch of HBOS.
‘I believe there was a culture of criminality that gave free rein to elements within HBOS,’ he said. ‘I didn’t bank at the Reading branch, but I was Dobsoned.’
The star had been with the Bank of Scotland since becoming a radio DJ in the 1970s. It was taken over by Halifax in 2001 and was renamed HBOS. Lloyds took over HBOS to rescue it from collapse in the midst of the financial crisis.
Edmonds claims his business, called Unique Group, was deliberately brought down by HBOS, which repeatedly refused opportunities to allow Unique to sell assets it owned to enable it to repay bank debts. Edmonds claims this was part of a concerted plan to run it into the ground.
In the interview Edmonds warned Lloyds that he is planning a long fight. ‘I have a major litigation funder there who has seen my case, so they can’t beat me on the deep pockets.’
Edmonds said he has written to Lloyds boss Antonio Horta-Osorio to request a meeting, but has been rebuffed.
Chain of events: Edmonds had been with the Bank of Scotland since becoming a radio DJ in the 1970s. It was taken over by Halifax in 2001 and was renamed HBOS. Lloyds took over HBOS to rescue it from collapse in the midst of the financial crisis
The entertainer – whose 40-year career in television has included presenting shows such as Noel’s House Party and Deal Or No Deal – believes there should be further prosecutions in relation to the activities of employees at HBOS.
He has been in contact with Thames Valley Police and has submitted a number of documents and statements.
Edmonds has also set up a website to publicise his claims against the bank and said he is receiving leaks from the highest levels within the bank.
‘I complained to FCA about payout delay’
Noel Edmonds has reported Lloyds to the Financial Conduct Authority over delays in the payment of compensation to victims of the HBOS fraud.
The bank has appointed Professor Russel Griggs to look at each case and to decide on an appropriate sum of compensation.
Victims have been critical of the review process. They say £100 million will not cover all the claims – and that the process is not fair or transparent.
Edmonds said: ‘I asked for the Financial Conduct Authority to investigate the statement by Lloyds chairman Lord Blackwell at the time of the annual general meeting that victims will be paid within weeks not months.’
He has written to Andrew Bailey, head of the watchdog, to ask for an investigation of the review ‘and why it is being conducted,’ Edmonds said.
‘Since I’ve adopted a somewhat unorthodox fight an awful lot of people want to give me information,’ he said.
‘I’m currently working on a Channel 4 documentary and I’ve also had an approach from a second production company.’
Following the criminal convictions, Lloyds set up a compensation scheme for victims and said the victims would receive settlements within weeks. However, Edmonds complains that many are still waiting for compensation five months down the line.
A Lloyds spokesman said: ‘The criminal acts in HBOS Reading were committed by a small number of individuals in conjunction with external parties. Their actions bear no reflection on the behaviour of the vast majority of employees of HBOS at the time or in the group today.’
The bank said it was working hard to get compensation to those affected as quickly as possible.
‘But, as we have met and spoken with victims, many have asked us for more time to provide input.
‘We are committed to doing everything we can to support those affected as we continue with the review and we are continuing to make good progress in getting offers to the victims of the fraud.
‘We have continued to meet our commitment to deliver offers within an average of four weeks after receiving all customer input.’
Courtesy: Daily Mail Online