Equality campaigner is the latest to get bank account closed without explanation


An Equality campaigner is the latest high-profile figure to be told their bank account is being closed. Professor Lesley Sawers, 64, Equalities and Human Rights Commissioner for Scotland, has been a loyal customer for 32 years.

But Prof Sawers and husband Allan McKechnie have been told their Royal Bank of Scotland joint account, containing a healthy balance of thousands of pounds, will be shut next month.

Notification arrived by letter two weeks ago from RBS, a subsidiary of the NatWest Group. It said it would be ceasing its “banking relationship” with the couple and they should make arrangements “outside of the NatWest group”.

RBS said it was “not able to discuss this decision with you or provide you with any further information in relation to our decision making”.

The extraordinary decision – without explanation – came in the wake of a scandal that has sparked claims big name institutions were indiscriminately closing accounts of customers with whom their values do not align.

Former Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage said he had been told by Coutts they no longer wanted him as a customer.

The exclusive bank is owned by high street giant NatWest, which in turn is still 38.6 percent owned by the British taxpayer after it was bailed out following the 2008 financial crisis.

Reclaim leader and former actor Laurence Fox has since withdrawn all his money, save a nominal £100, from NatWest. His party has also been refused an account.

Professor Sawers has been in her job, which deals in part with women’s rights and LGBT issues, since 2016 and during that time has not been involved in any controversies.

Mr McKechnie, 69, is a pilot from South Ayrshire. Since the couple were put on notice they have held talks with a rival bank only to be told Prof Sawers had a “mark against her name” but were given no further details.

Meanwhile, a gender-critical ­parents’ group claimed it was barred from opening an account because of its political views.

Metro Bank – launched by American billionaire Vernon Hill in 2010 and the first new high street bank in the UK in more than a ­century – refused to open a business account for Our Duty, a coalition of more than 2,000 parents who believe it is harmful for transgender children to undergo medical transition.

Founder Keith Jordan claimed a manager said the group could not open a business account because “the content of your website conflicts with the culture and ideas we are pushing”.

The not-for-profit group supports parents who believe children coming out as transgender could suffer mentally or physically from transitioning.

The banking scandal has sparked an outpouring of anger after Mr Farage, 59, ­compared Britain to “communist China” and claimed he was being targeted for his Brexit views. He said: “Some of these ridiculous rules and closures have been extended to my immediate family.”

However, high-wealth bank Coutts told the BBC Mr Farage had fallen below its financial threshold to have an account and it is thought that he was offered a new account at NatWest which owns Coutts.

Around 10,000 people have joined the Facebook group NatWest Closed Down My Account to share similar stories. The bank said: “Like all UK regulated banking institutions NatWest is subject to legal and regulatory requirements, and we treat compliance with them as a priority.”

Adblock test (Why?)