Monthly Archives: August 2017

Why I object to Eric Daniels walking away from chaos with £5M – it’s not banker bashing, it’s logic.

I wrote the blog below in September 2011. Today’s news that Eric Daniels now feels he can sue Lloyds Banking Group for lost bonuses has not improved my view of him. Mr Daniels was a spectacularly unsuccessful bank CEO. A friend of mine said the HBOS /Lloyds bankers were paid a fortune to “fail with vigour.” My friend was right and Mr Daniels was a classic example. The fact he believes he is entitled to even more money is offensive to the Bank’s shareholders, it;s customers, to the thousands of staff who lost their jobs, to the victims of #HBOS Reading who Eric not only ignored but in some cases persecuted, and to the whole Country. Shame on you Mr Daniels. 22/08/17

Original blog of 26/09/2011

Some may say my various tweets on Saturday (24th September) about Eric Daniels were a bit harsh or that I have been indulging in what has reportedly become a common pastime in the UK, banker bashing. But I have good reason to feel Mr Daniels should not be allowed to cock this last snoop at the British taxpayer or at me.

I do remember 2009, when Eric Daniels became head of HBOS as well as Lloyds. I remember thinking that finally, the victims of HBOS Reading would get a fair hearing and a resolution because obviously, the management of Lloyds would want to clear up such an unwholesome mess. Not so.

I wrote to Mr Daniels on several occasions and those people who replied on his behalf (he never replied personally), simply said that, as far as Mr Daniels was concerned, the issue of HBOS Reading had been dealt with, there was no fraud and the Bank did not intend to correspond further. They are still corresponding now, over two years later and our last letter came from Harry Baines, General Counsel for HBOS and now Lloyds Banking Group, in July 2011. His variation on a theme was the matter has been well ‘ventilated’ and that’s the end of it.

The serious question this behaviour poses is not just as to why Mr Daniels, or anyone else for that matter, would be happy to see business banking clients left in such a sorry state having been defrauded by bank employees but rather; why would the CEO of a bank ignore evidence of criminality and allow the situation to progress to a full scale police investigation which could only be detrimental to the bank and its shareholders?

I’m fully aware that banks get hundreds if not thousands of complaints on a daily basis and they  very often deal with them using the ‘delay, deny, dilute’ tactic. But, I truly believe in this instance it was absolute madness and totally negligent to repeatedly ignore complaints about HBOS Reading and even when:

  1. Several MPs were asking for a resolution on behalf of Constituents.
  2. The HBOS Reading scandal was the subject of a File on 4 broadcast.
  3. MPs had a Debate at Westminster on 2nd June 2009 and James Paice MP even used Parliamentary Privilege to expose some of the unwholesome details (documented on Hansard).
  4. The FSA did a Section 166 Review which progressed to a Section 168 Investigation.

What part of the list above would allow the CEO of any business to think this was a matter that could simply be swept under the carpet and denied? At what point did Mr Daniels think the best way forward was to ignore the victims or, in our case, to proceed with trying to evict us from our home 22 times so that we could not continue our investigation into the fraud? Leaving aside integrity or even decency, has Mr Daniels never heard of damage limitation?

And the end result of pretending the HBOS Reading fraud never happened is Thames Valley Police and SOCA are now into their second year of ‘Operation Hornet’, the full scale investigation into what really happened at HBOS Reading. 8 people including 2 bankers have been arrested so far – which suggests that while Mr Daniels has not taken this matter seriously, the police have.

That cannot be good for the reputation of HBOS, Lloyds Banking Group or any of the senior executives, past or present, of HBOS or Lloyds who have refused to deal with the matter. Surely it is the responsibility of these people, who are paid vast amounts of money, to make make sure that a) major frauds do not happen in the Bank and b) when something does go horribly wrong, it is dealt with quickly, fairly and efficiently. But that has not happened – not under Andy Hornby nor Peter Cummings nor Eric Daniels. More importantly, anything detrimental to the Bank’s reputation, is not good for the shareholders which, in this case, means the Country. We have all seen Lloyds share price drop from pounds to pennies – while pay and bonuses for the top bankers have gone from thousands to millions. For what? For running the banks into the ground?

To make matters worse and even more confusing, Mr Daniels was in charge when the false bank account in the name of Zenith Cafe Ltd was being debited. I have already blogged about this but I forgot to add a vital point. While the Bank are busy convincing the FSA this is an ‘internal’ account which our company was never going to be asked to repay, we have the letters demanding repayment and telling us we must stick to the overdraft limit – which is of course zero as you can’t negotiate an overdraft for an account you don’t know about.

Presumably Mr Daniels would say he didn’t know about the account. He would be oblivious to the fact Zenith Cafe appears to owe the Bank approx. £630,000 – £200,000 of which was to pay the Bank’s lawyers to be involved with 5 of our eviction hearings when they weren’t instructed in that matter.

But even the FSA are now saying they are taking this matter very seriously because it simply isn’t possible to add approximately £250,000 worth of interest and charges (going up at £11,000+ per month) to a £372,000 debt for their legal fees and come out with a £600,000+ credit which is explained away as an ‘internal’ matter. So maybe, as CEO, Mr Daniels should have known about it so he could have asked the question – who authorised it? And how many other fake accounts were/are manipulating the Bank’s loan book? What impact is this or other ‘internal’ accounts having on the P&L? Or did this well paid now ex CEO have no idea what was happening on  his watch?

This morning I was reading an old letter from a Mr Godfrey at the Bank on behalf of Mr Daniels. It says – over and above the usual, “we’ve dealt with this so go away” – that the Bank is fully aware of our level of indebtedness. Maybe they were – but I certainly wasn’t as I knew nothing about the account for the first 18 months after the Bank created it! And I’m wondering now if my other company, Zenith Publishing Ltd, also has a false account attributed to it and how much does that one show as owing to the Bank?

Many people would say the ‘fantastic’ deal Mr Daniels and friends did when they merged a good or at least functioning bank, Lloyds, with a basket case, HBOS, caused thousands of people to lose a fortune. Not the kind of fortune top bankers or Corporate CEOs make in bonuses but the few thousand pounds a lot of people thought they were going to get annually as a pension when they retired – or the reasonable wage they made before thousands were made redundant when the Bank had to off load staff to increase profits – or the comfortable nest egg they had which meant they could afford a reasonable lifestyle. So many people’s lives changed thanks to the Lloyds/HBOS merger and even more lives have changed thanks to the overall bank bailouts.

I think we are all entitled to question why so many of the people who caused economic catastrophe have been so handsomely rewarded?

We are entitled to ask why people who have possibly broken the law, are not being prosecuted?

We are entitled to ask why people who have breached FSMA 2000, who have acted with little or no integrity and who have caused damage to our banking system via their negligence, have not been struck off as directors?

Personally I would ask why the ex CEO of Lloyds Banking Group was able to; totally ignore the evidence he was sent of a major fraud which has resulted in a major police investigation that is detrimental to the bank ; allow and even authorise the malicious persecution of the victims of the fraud; allow a false account to be operated in the name of a victim’s company (when false accounting is a criminal offence); and why should he walk away with £5 million pounds?

It doesn’t make any sense to me and I’m deeply disappointed UKFI, our Government and our regulators seem unable to understand how offensive this pay off is to the majority of the British people. This is not about banker bashing – it’s just logic and I imagine the 43,000 people who have lost or are losing their jobs at Lloyds, will also be wondering about  the logic of them all ending up with nothing when the man in charge of the disastrous merger, can get so much?

Maybe, on a personal level, Mr Daniels is a good man – I wouldn’t know. But in my view, he isn’t a good business man and I cannot understand why a bank that is 41% owned by the state, is paying him £5M? Or why he has been getting £3,333 a day since last March for doing nothing?  Or is the  implication, it was costing us much more than that when Mr Daniels was doing ‘something’?

I’m inclined to think it was. He has cost this Nation a fortune – and now his pension from the part state owned bank he was instrumental in ruining, will keep paying him a fortune every year for the rest of his life.

Eric Daniels, Fred Goodwin, Peter Cummings – some might consider them to be three of the most successful bank robbers in British history. No horses, no getaway cars, no balaclava’s, no dynamite. How did they do it?

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ARE SOME BANKS SPREADING THE IMMORALITY TO THE COURTROOM?#HBOS

I wrote the blog below back in 2010 when Paul and I were still going through our 22 eviction hearings. I was reminded of it today when trying to help a member of SME Alliance who, in my opinion, is being treated absolutely appallingly as a litigant in person by the Court system. Don’t get me wrong – over the course of the last 10 years, I’ve come across far more good Judges than bad ones. I now know a lot of good lawyers and good barristers. But I have definitely recognised a more aggressive approach from the legal profession in general when they are representing banks.

Back in 2010 when we were being hammered by banks who were simultaneously insisting our allegations about the HBOS Reading fraud were absolutely unjustified while they tried to curtail our investigations by making us homeless, I wondered if the barristers working for HBOS/Lloyds would get a bonus if they managed successfully to take our family home.

Talking to our member today I had that same really worrying feeling. But this time I am also worried about the Judge who would not let the Mackenzie Friend speak on behalf of a 68 year old woman who is ill and confused. Even the other side (a Bank) had no objection to the MacKenzie Friend speaking. But as the Judge wouldn’t allow it, they gave the elderly litigant in person little leeway.

I know exactly what it’s like to have a Bank’s top legal bods against you in a County Court when you’re a litigant in person. I still question why a Bank was prepared to pay mega bucks to the Deputy  Chairman of a huge law firm instructed by the Bank’s Board and not by our mortgage company to ensure our eviction (which never happened). I’d like to think the Bank in question would now be more considerate to litigants in person on the grounds that they may be right and a Bank should act with integrity.

Leaving aside the validity of our member’s case – I feel really concerned today to think our justice system would be a party to intimidating elderly litigants in person. Not least because some would say Paul and I, should we go through any more Court cases with HBOS/Lloyds, could also now be categorised as elderly! Fortunately we are not at all confused.

Here’s the blog from times I would rather not remember but, unfortunately, I still can’t put behind me.

Tuesday 19th January 2010 barristers/Courtrooms.

There’s an American man on Twitter who keeps tweeting the fact that justice is about being able to afford the best lawyers and to a certain extent he’s right – although thankfully, not completely. But it is a fact that litigants in person are extremely disadvantaged. First, they’re unlikely to know specifics of the law so when a barrister quotes another case as a precedent, it’s very hard for the litigant to counter it. Second and probably most important, the litigant in person is likely to be under enormous stress, so that even the most organised and eloquent of people will often not be able to produce the right document or say the right thing. Even with a Judge’s help it’s still easy to get things wrong. The barrister, on the other hand, is simply doing a job and an experienced barrister will have performed in Court many times so, he/she will not be at all nervous.

With that in mind, what I found so worrying yesterday, over and above the fact we had no legal representation, was the total lack of social conscience by the Bank’s legal team. The manipulation of truth and mis-representation of facts in the Court yesterday was extremely similar, if not identical to the way the entire HBOS Reading case has been handled by Lloyds/HBOS i.e. “what we are saying is right because we say so.”

I appreciate that a barrister must do the best job possible for his/her client  but that brief now seems to have extended to doing or saying ‘what ever it takes’ and this does include manipulation of the truth. This must put a huge burden on Judges who, on the one hand must assume barristers don’t use manipulation or mis-representation because it would be so detrimental to the reputation of the cause of Justice and, on the other hand, must be able to recognise it when it does happen.

Here’s an example. Yesterday the Judge, being very thorough and fair, said he could not go ahead with the eviction while the issue of our Legal Aid funding was still outstanding and also while he hadn’t had a chance to consider the very large file of evidence Paul prepared. Paul has worked non stop on preparing our Court bundle for days and finished the final page at 2.00am the morning of the Hearing.  There were over 400 pages in the file we gave to the Court. That is a fact – he worked on the document from 6.00 am every morning until very late at night for days and I really thought he was making himself ill through stress and lack of sleep BUT (and here’s an example of manipulation), the Bank’s barrister made every effort to try and persuade the Judge we deliberately filed a huge bundle at the last minute in order to get an adjournment. We couldn’t start the document until we received a response from Hector Sants, CEO of the Financial Services Authority and we didn’t get that reply until Thursday 7th January.

The barrister’s attack was strangely personal and the implication was that we were trying to trick the Court. If a litigant in person were to call into question the veracity or integrity of a barrister in that way, I imagine the Court would look on such behaviour as being quite outrageous and possibly libellous. But over the course of our 18 eviction hearings, I’ve noticed the barristers have become more and more personally aggressive. Top of the list for this behaviour does not actually go to the barrister against us yesterday but all the same, he did go to some lengths to try and convince the Judge we were either devious or incompetent or both.

It is bad enough that huge Corporations have become more and more immune to the social consequences of their actions but if that behaviour is now able to creep into Court rooms, then we really are in trouble. Under any circumstance an eviction hearing is a horribly stressful and emotional trial – it is considerably worsened by the use of legal manipulation. Surely, the practise of denigration should not be seen as a useful courtroom tool?

My point is – at a time when repossessions are likely to increase because of the Credit Crunch and given the huge roll the banks played in that, I really think it’s time the Government took a good hard look at the whole matter of evicting people.

According to Government guidelines, eviction should only be used as an absolute last resort but our case (or 18 hearings) proves that banks will go to extraordinary lengths to evict people and their methods are getting increasingly immoral. One barrister in a previous hearing actually went so far as to shake his finger at the Judge and to tell him his Court had no right nor jurisdiction NOT to evict us. In that particular instance I think the barrister was even more offensive to the Judge than he was to us. He was so absolutely determined to secure our eviction, I couldn’t help wondering if he was going to get a bonus if successful? And yesterday’s performance made me wonder the same thing.

If such a diabolical situation were to be true then it’s a very sad reflection on where the British justice system is and I would urge this Government or who ever wins the election to take a good hard look at how far Corporate immorality is being allowed to spread. Ours is a very particular case I know and most eviction cases are not as a result of a massive bank scandal or fraud. But more and more cases of eviction are related to what the banks have done to this Country and it would be entirely wrong if the immorality that so underpinned the Credit Crunch was to now find its way into our Courtrooms to get people out of their homes at all costs. And to a certain extent I’m certain it has.

A friend who is a barrister explained to Paul that they (barristers) work on the information given to them by the client. Therefore, if they say something in Court that the litigant in person (or the opposing legal team) believes to be a pack of lies, it’s likely that is the information they were given. That’s a very handy excuse and it doesn’t explain the process of denigration or mis-representation. It’s highly unlikely that the Bank’s barrister yesterday had not read anything about our case in the press. He’s from chambers in Cambridge and our local newspaper has covered the story extensively.

Additionally, journalist Ian Fraser has written  articles and blogs about what happened at HBOS Reading. So, in this instance, the barrister must know about our allegations of fraud and the fact the matter is being investigated by the FSA (we have also raised these points in Court with the same barrister several times). His client (Lloyds/HBOS) will obviously have said our allegations are a pack of lies and on that basis and because he obviously can’t act against his clients wishes, he must act on their version of events and not ours. But the determination to evict us by some barristers seems to be going further than that. If the issue is mortgage arrears where is the need to malign us? It’s fair enough for a barrister to push for what his client wants but why try and convince a Judge that we are cheats or liars?

In reality, it’s no skin off the barristers nose whether we get evicted or not – he still gets his fee for the day in Court. Or is that fee conditional in some cases? In the same way that some bankers took extraordinary risks with other people’s money so they could make balance sheets look good and therefore get their bonuses, are we now seeing barristers taking extraordinary risks with justice for similar reasons? Of course I don’t know if this is the case but I am beginning to suspect it is.

I still have no idea why HBOS or Lloyds consider the best way to resolve the HBOS Reading issue is to evict us – or why they go to such extraordinary lengths to try and make the eviction a reality rather than just resolving the issue. But our 18 hearings have made me think very seriously about how horribly wrong things are possibly going in Court rooms. Corporations are putting pressure on legal professionals to use the Corporate’s own immoral standards against the public. There was no reason for the barrister yesterday to personally denigrate Paul and I but he did so repeatedly. Fortunately the Judges in the Cambridge County Court have all been very fair and as a consequence we have not been evicted. But that doesn’t alter the unethical behaviour of Lloyds/HBOS or the legal team working on their behalf, their instruction and their information. So I can’t help but feel some banks are doing their best to spread their unwholesome lack of morality and their lack of social  conscience via the legal profession into UK Courtrooms.

We have seen yesterday’s barrister in Court quite a few times now. He has had a definite change in attitude. Not for the better.