Television star Noel Edmonds is set to take legal action against Lloyds Banking Group in an effort to secure as much as £300 million in compensation after mediation with the lender broke down.
Mr Edmonds and his legal team attended a mediation hearing last Friday, but his lawyer, Jonathan Coad, said they walked out amid concerns that the bank was not going to stick to pledges that HBOS fraud victims would be compensated “swiftly, fairly and appropriately”.
The former Deal Or No Deal presenter is seeking financial redress from Lloyds Banking Group after falling victim to fraud at the hands of former staff at HBOS Reading, which the banking group rescued at the height of the financial crisis.
Mr Coad said Mr Edmonds is now set to pursue his claim to recover those losses though the courts, in the belief that the bank’s arguments will not hold up at trial.
“One reason for our confidence is that, back in 2008, when the bank sued Noel on its personal guarantee, such was the adverse legal advice it was getting from its then lawyers that it bribed Noel’s business partner to the tune of around £1 million to stop him supporting Noel’s defence.
“Since then the bank’s primary witness has been jailed, which greatly weakens its position.”
The former Deal Or No Deal presenter is seeking financial redress (PA)
Corrupt financiers from the HBOS Reading branch were jailed earlier this year for the £245 million loans scam which destroyed several businesses, before they squandered the profits on high-end prostitutes and luxury holidays.
Lloyds has set aside £100 million for victims of the fraud at the hands of HBOS Reading staff between 2003 and 2007.
A spokeswoman for Lloyds said the bank rejects the basis of Mr Edmonds’ claim.
“Despite Lloyds Banking Group’s determined efforts to reach a consensual resolution with Mr Edmonds through mediation, this has not been possible. As a result, a formal litigation process has begun.
“We recognise Mr Edmonds suffered personal distress and inconvenience as a result of him interacting almost a decade ago with an ex-HBOS employee convicted earlier this year in relation to criminal conduct at HBOS Reading Impaired Assets office.
“However, we strongly refute that this caused his business to collapse.”
The bank has so far put forward 40 offers to companies affected by the fraud, representing 60% of the customers in the review. Thirty-one have accepted the offers, representing payouts of around £27 million.
That review is still ongoing.
Mr Edmonds’ team plan to serve notice to Lloyds over the launch of legal action by the end of November.
In September, the TV star lashed out at the Lloyds boss during a panel organised by the SME Alliance in London, which was aimed at small business owners who claim they were mistreated or financially ruined by the likes of banks including HBOS and Lloyds.
He suggested that chief executive Antonio Horta Osorio must have known about the misdeeds of staff at HBOS, saying he was either a “shit banker” or a “liar” in relation to his knowledge of the fraud scandal.
Commenting on the recently failed mediation, Mr Edmonds said he was “disappointed but not surprised” by the outcome.
“I am going to have to seek an order from a court to force the bank to return the goods it stole from me. Regrettably, I suspect that many other fraud victims will have to do likewise…
“Over the last few months I have learned a great deal about the culture of dishonesty and concealment at Lloyds, which goes right to the top, and very much look forward to that being laid bare at the trial of my claim.”