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Parliament RBS accused of systematically ripping off small businesses

Reading from an unredacted FCA report, Labour's Clive Lewis told the Commons he believed the bank had misled MPs

LABOUR’S Clive Lewis sensationally accused the Royal Bank of Scotland today of systematically fleecing small and medium-sized businesses in the Commons chamber.

Using parliamentary privilege to quote from an unredacted version of a Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) report, he said bosses “boasted that one family business was ‘set to lose their shirts’ so that RBS could get ‘a chunky equity deal’.”

Mr Lewis had previously led a debate on treatment of small businesses by state-owned RBS, after which MPs unanimously voted for a full investigation.

But the FCA has refused to release its report, even to the Treasury select committee, publishing instead what Mr Lewis called a “sanitised” summary.

In the Commons chamber today, he held up a thick manila envelope containing a copy of the report.

“Having read the document, I believe it shows that RBS executives misled the select committee in their evidence and had a stated policy of misleading members of this House,” he said.

Raising the allegations on a point of order, Mr Lewis asked Commons Speaker John Bercow if he was allowed to hand over the full report to the Treasury select committee, which is due to hear evidence from FCA chair Andrew Bailey tomorrow.

Mr Bercow said it is not within his remit to grant or deny permission for Mr Lewis to hand the full report to the committee but advised him to take legal advice before circulating it more widely.

Pointing out that the report claims RBS behaviour was “systemic and widespread,” Mr Lewis asked if deliberately misleading a select committee would constitute contempt of Parliament.

Mr Bercow said it would, adding that the Norwich South MP would have to write to him to complain of any breach.

An RBS spokeswoman told the Star: “The evidence we provided to the Treasury Committee accurately reflected the bank’s position.

“We are not clear on what basis the allegations are being made, but we would strongly deny the suggestion that we misled the committee.”

Mr Lewis confirmed on Twitter later that he had handed over a copy of the report to Treasury select committee chair Nicky Morgan.

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