The head of the upmarket private bank Coutts has become the second banking chief in two days to resign over the closure of Nigel Farage’s accounts.
Peter Flavel acknowledged that the handling of the case “fell below Coutts’s high standards” and stepped down with immediate effect on Thursday.
His departure piles pressure on Sir Howard Davies, the chair of NatWest Group – which is 39 per cent owned by the taxpayer and is the parent company of Coutts – to stand down. It follows the resignation of Dame Alison Rose as the chief executive of NatWest, after a debacle which has plunged the banking group into chaos.
Sir Howard initially expressed “full confidence” in Dame Alison when she admitted she was the source of a leak to a BBC journalist, which led to a misleading story suggesting Mr Farage’s accounts were shuttered solely for financial reasons.
Mr Farage, the former leader of the pro-Brexit Ukip party, later obtained internal documents labelling him as “xenophobic and racist” and a “grifter”, suggesting his accounts were closed in part due to his political views.
During the continued fallout from the row between Mr Farage and the bank, Rishi Sunak declined to say whether he had confidence in Sir Howard.
When asked, the prime minister said it “wasn’t right for people to be deprived of basic services like banking because of their [political] views”.
Responding to Mr Flavel’s resignation, Mr Farage said it was “only a matter of time”. “The ultimate responsibility for the dossier de-banking me for my political views lies with him.”
He added: “I even wrote to Mr Flavel twice before going public and didn’t receive an acknowledgment.”
Senior Tory MP David Davis welcomed the resignation as the “honourable thing to do”, but said Dame Alison and Mr Flavel had left “quite a large dent” in NatWest’s reputation.
“If I was considering a new bank I would not go to this group,” he told The Independent.
It was only a matter of time before Peter Flavel, Coutts CEO, stood down.
The ultimate responsibility for the dossier de-banking me for my political views lies with him.
I even wrote to Mr Flavel twice before going public and didn’t receive an acknowledgment.
— Nigel Farage (@Nigel_Farage) July 27, 2023