Former NatWest CEO Breached Nigel Farage’s Data Protection Rights, Watchdog Finds


Dame Alison Rose broke data protection rules when she spoke to the BBC after Nigel Farage’s bank account was shut down, the information watchdog has found.

The former CEO of NatWest resigned in July after she admitted to being the source of an inaccurate BBC story about why Coutts, a private bank owned by the NatWest Group, had closed Mr. Farage’s account.

The broadcaster and former Brexit Party leader made a complaint to the Information Commissioner about the leak. Following a review of the complaint, the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) found two rule breaches but decided against taking further action.

“Following a thorough review of the complaint raised with us, we have concluded our investigation. We upheld two parts of the complaint—namely, we found that an individual employed by Natwest shared information when they should not have done, and that by doing so they infringed the complainant’s data protection rights,” an ICO spokesperson said in a statement emailed to The Epoch Times.

“We have been clear with the bank that these actions were unacceptable and should not happen again. However, in view of the fact the individual in question resigned her post and the bank has commissioned its own investigation, we do not intend to take any further regulatory action at this time.”

A spokesperson for NatWest said in an email to The Epoch Times, “We fully cooperate with the ICO in its assessment of any customer complaint but it would not be appropriate for us to comment on this individual case.”

Farage ‘Watching’ NatWest’s Decision on Ex-CEO’s Leaving Pay

Mr. Farage told the Financial Times, which first reported the ruling, “The ICO report confirms that Dame Alison Rose was in breach of data rules, of the FCA rule book and oversaw a culture of deep political prejudice at NatWest.”

In an article published in The Telegraph, he also said it would be “wrong and a slap in the face to taxpayers” if NatWest, which is still partly owned by taxpayers following an emergency bailout in 2008, rewards “enormous failings with a huge sum of money” in Dame Alison’s severance package.
Mr. Farage claimed NatWest Group’s board of directors was set to discuss the package on Thursday, along with an independent external review of the events the bank had commissioned earlier.

“I will be watching closely to see if the NatWest Group board agrees,” Mr. Farage said of Dame Alison’s leaving package.

He also said he has “little faith” in the bank’s external review, which was carried out by Travers Smith, because the law firm’s Chair Emeritus Chris Hale was a vocal opponent of Brexit.

NatWest declined to comment on specific meetings, but it has previously said the key findings of the independent review and the recommendations will be published in due course along with the group’s response.

Mr. Farage revealed at the end of June that Coutts had closed his bank account with “no explanation” and that he had been unable to find another bank to accept him.

The BBC published a story on July 18, citing an unnamed source saying it was a “commercial” decision. The story suggested Coutts closed Mr. Farage’s account because he fell below the bank’s financial threshold.

It came a day before the Mail Online published information Mr. Farage obtained from Coutts through a subject access request, showing the bank’s Wealth Reputational Risk Committee decided to unboard him because his publicly-stated views were deemed at odds with the bank’s “position as an inclusive organisation.”
The BBC later apologised to Mr. Farage over the report.

Dame Alison said she had made a “serious error of judgment” when speaking to a BBC journalist. NatWest’s board initially backed the CEO, before announcing her departure hours later.

The de-banking of Mr. Farage also led to the resignation of Peter Flavel as the chief executive of Coutts.

Mr. Farage has since opened accounts with Lloyds.

The government has published plans to tighten the rules to require banks to provide “clear and tailored explanatory reasons” when notifying customers about decisions to close their accounts except in limited scenarios.

Banks will also be required to give 90 days of notice instead of 60 days.

The government said it has already asked service providers to begin implementing the new rules.