NatWest Boss Alison Rose Resigns After Admitting To 'Serious Error' Over Farage Leak

The chief executive of the taxpayer-funded bank departs "by mutual consent" following “de-banking” row with former Brexit party leader.
Alison Rose and Nigel Farage
Alison Rose and Nigel Farage
Reuters/Associated Press

NatWest chief executive Alison Rose has resigned after admitting to discussing Nigel Farage’s relationship with the bank with a senior BBC journalist.

Rose had remained in post after saying she made a “serious error of judgment” over talking to Simon Jack about the former Brexit party leader and his closed accounts, with the company’s board stating they had “full confidence” in her.

But in the early hours of Wednesday morning, Howard Davies, chairman of the NatWest board, announced Rose had agreed to step down “by mutual consent”.

Her position had become untenable following the intense political and media scrutiny over a decision by NatWest’s private bank, Coutts, to close Farage’s accounts. NatWest is taxpayer-funded, with the state’s shareholding just below 40%.

Farage had alleged the decision to “exit” him was “political” after he obtained an internal document that said the “de-banking” was partly because his views were not “aligned” with the bank’s. The 40-page dossier refers to the ex-MEP as “xenophobic and racist” and a former “fascist”.

It raised into question a report by Jack, the broadcaster’s business editor, who had suggested Farage lost his account because he lacked the funds needed to hold it.

Jack on Monday apologised to Farage, saying the information his reporting was based on “turned out to be incomplete and inaccurate”. This was followed by Rose’s admission on Tuesday and her subsequent resignation.

Before the departure, Farage had hit back at NatWest’s statement on his GB News show, criticising Rose as “unfit” to run a bank, as well as lambasting Davies and Coutts CEO Peter Flavel.

“The government ought to say we have no confidence in this management. Frankly, I think they should all go,” Farage said, after declaring that Rose had breached an “essential confidence”.

Rose confirmed in the statement that she had discussed Farage’s “relationship with the bank” with Jack.

“I recognise that in my conversations with Simon Jack of the BBC, I made a serious error of judgment,” Rose said, but added she had not revealed any personal financial information about Farage and had answered a general question about eligibility.

Coutts’ website advises its clients should be able to borrow or invest at least £1 million with the bank or hold £3 million in savings.

Rose also said she was not part of the decision-making process to close Farage’s accounts and said this was a decision made by Coutts.

The government’s shareholding in NatWest is managed “at arm’s length” and on a commercial basis by the UK Government Investments (UKGI). UKGI’s role is to manage the shareholding, not the bank itself.

Treasury minister Andrew Griffith is set to meet lenders on Wednesday to discuss concerns that banks have closed customer accounts over their political views, ahead of reforms requiring banks to explain and delay these decisions.


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