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...
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