Nigel Farage account: Dame Alison Rose to step down as CEO NatWest Group
The Chief Executive of NatWest, Dame Alison Rose, is to step down after coming under pressure in the over Nigel Farage’s bank account.
She had been heavily criticised for being the source of an inaccurate BBC report about the leading Brexiteer’s account at Coutts, which is part of NatWest Group.
In a statement released early on Wednesday morning, NatWest Group chairman Sir Howard Davies said: “The Board and Alison Rose have agreed, by mutual consent, that she will step down as CEO of the NatWest Group. It is a sad moment.
“She has dedicated all her working life so far to NatWest and will leave many colleagues who respect and admire her.”
In a separate statement, Dame Alison thanked her colleagues “for all that they [had] done”, saying: “I remain immensely proud of the progress the bank has made in supporting people, families and business across the UK, and building the foundations for sustainable growth.”
Earlier, she apologised for discussing the closure of Nigel Farage’s account at NatWest’s private banking arm Coutts with a BBC journalist, saying it was a “serious error of judgement”.
That apology came after the BBC apologised for its inaccurate report earlier this month which said Mr Farage’s account was being closed because he no longer met the wealth threshold for Coutts, citing a source familiar with the matter.
On Tuesday evening Downing Street and Chancellor Jeremy Hunt expressed “significant concerns” over her conduct
Mr Farage, the former leader of the UK Independence Party, first reported in early July that his account had been closed.
In her first admission that she had been involved, Dame Alison said in conversations with BBC business editor Simon Jack “she had confirmed that Mr Farage was a Coutts customer and he had been offered a NatWest bank account”. She said she had believed this was public knowledge.
The NatWest boss said she had not revealed any personal financial information about Mr Farage.
“In response to a general question about eligibility criteria required to bank with Coutts and NatWest I said that guidance on both was publicly available on their websites.
“In doing so, I recognise that I left Mr Jack with the impression that the decision to close Mr Farage’s accounts was solely a commercial one,” she said.
She added: “I was wrong to respond to any question raised by the BBC about this case. I want to extend my sincere apologies to Mr Farage for the personal hurt this has caused him and I have written to him today.”
Mr Farage has said that Coutts did not give him a reason when it decided to close his account.
But Mr Farage had obtained a document outlining his suitability as a Coutts client.
The document had concerns that he was “xenophobic and racist”, and assessed the reputational risk of having Mr Farage as a customer.
Dame Alison said that Coutts had told her the account closure had been for commercial reasons.
She said when she spoke to the BBC’s Simon Jack she had not seen the dossier obtained by Mr Farage.