How his brave ac­count of be­ing driven to the very brink of sui­cide sparked a flood of re­sponses from MoS read­ers and led Noel Ed­monds to con­clude...

The Scottish Mail on Sunday - - Focus -

IT HAS been more than a decade since I fired the first shot in my David and Go­liath bat­tle with the gi­ant Lloyds Bank­ing Group. In that time, I’ve done my best to make my case. I’ve set up a ded­i­cated web­site, a Face­book plat­form, an in­ter­net ra­dio sta­tion and a YouTube chan­nel with more than 20 videos – all of which have gen­er­ated a con­sis­tent flow of in­for­ma­tion and sup­port.

But noth­ing has matched the scale of the re­sponse to my in­ter­view in last week’s Mail on Sun­day, in which I out­lined the dev­as­tat­ing per­sonal con­se­quences of the way I was treated by HBOS – later taken over by Lloyds – and by one crim­i­nal bank man­ager, Mark Dob­son, in par­tic­u­lar.

I told how they drove my busi­nesses into the ground and cost me my home, my mar­riage and very nearly my life as I was driven to the edge of sui­cide. I would like to ex­press my heart­felt thanks to all those read­ers who have sym­pa­thised with my emo­tional or­deal.

My jour­ney is far from over – I still have a £300mil­lion claim against Lloyds. But there is some com­fort in know­ing that I’m not alone in be­ing pushed to the very brink by evil bankers.

Quite sim­ply, I am hor­ri­fied at the scale of the dam­age to so many other liveli­hoods and lives. Haven’t we all grown up trust­ing high street banks? Their branches were fix­tures, not only in our towns and cities, but in the way our lives ran.

Yet it is no ex­ag­ger­a­tion to say that thou­sands, pos­si­bly mil­lions of us, in­stead of be­ing helped have found our lives per­ma­nently dam­aged by the toxic UK fi­nan­cial sys­tem.

Each day last week, other vic­tims vis­ited me at my home.

The sto­ries of shat­tered fam­i­lies, life-threat­en­ing ill­nesses and sui­cides are truly har­row­ing.

For ex­am­ple, one woman who ran a suc­cess­ful fashion com­pany had lost her business, her home, her mar­riage and fi­nally her san­ity.

She told me she re­ceived death threats from one fi­nan­cial con­sul­tant – by no means the only scare tac­tic I have heard.

An­other vic­tim of HBOS and Lloyds was a farmer, a real salt of the earth type, who wrote to me say­ing he had been put through hell. His wife is fight­ing cancer for a sec­ond time and he des­per­ately hopes they can re­cover their losses.

To list all such tales of heart­break I’ve heard would re­quire page af­ter page. Suf­fice to say, or­di­nary peo­ple have been squeezed to the limit by the banks and their as­so­ci­ates, their or­deals of­ten strik­ingly sim­i­lar to the one I have barely sur­vived.

My own case has its roots in the no­to­ri­ous scan­dal based at the HBOS Read­ing branch, when a ca­bal of cor­rupt bankers and con­sul­tants set out to ruin small busi­nesses, tak­ing huge con­sul­tancy fees and strip­ping business as­sets.

It is true that Lloyds – which took over HBOS at the height of the fi­nan­cial cri­sis and is now re­spon­si­ble for clear­ing up the af­ter­math of the HBOS crime – has made numer­ous pos­i­tive state­ments about set­ting aside com­pen­sa­tion for vic­tims. But the ex­pe­ri­ence of those who have given ev­i­dence to the re­view of the HBOS scan­dal by Pro­fes­sor Rus­sel Griggs has not been en­cour­ag­ing, with vic­tims re­port­ing a take-it-or­leave-it ap­proach.

My fight, which will hope­fully ben­e­fit all of the vic­tims, is gain­ing sup­port from every di­rec­tion – lawyers and ac­coun­tants of­fer­ing ad­di­tional ad­vice; those gen­er­ously of­fer­ing to fund any fu­ture le­gal cam­paigns, and numer­ous me­dia re­quests to dis­cuss last week­end’s rev­e­la­tions.

Dave Fish­wick, of the Bank of Dave, called me. What a great char­ac­ter! You might have heard of Mr Fish­wick who, aside from be­ing the largest sup­plier of minibuses in the UK, has set up his own bank. He was moved to cre­ate Burn­ley Sav­ings And Loans af­ter he found that his cus­tomers were be­ing starved of cash by the con­ven­tional sys­tem.

Dave wants to put the trust back into bank­ing and treat cus­tomers as val­ued clients, not peo­ple to be ex­ploited. I’m re­ally look­ing for­ward to our meet­ing.

Lawrence Tom­lin­son is an­other

I now have ev­i­dence to show this wasn’t con­fined to a rogue unit

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