It was very funny to hear that the Banks called us muppets behind our backs. Muppets are the business customers who the banks fooled into buying products which they didn’t understand so that they could pocket huge commissions. I’m a muppet. And this muppet fought back.
I became a muppet when I signed on the dotted line of a “hedging” agreement which my bank, Yorkshire Bank, assured me would protect me against rises in interest rates. When interest rates fell I was shocked to find that my friendly bank was charging me double the agreed rate. When I protested they pointed to the small print which said, in language which no-one could understand, that they had the right to do this. When I told them that this didn’t make any sense at all they said: “Tough, you signed”. No doubt they added “you muppet” under their breath.
What they hadn’t bargained for was that I’m a Yorkshireman and Yorkshiremen are stubborn. I sued. They laughed and tried to browbeat me by saying they’d run up such enormous legal costs that it would finish me as a businessman. But I had my day in court; three days actually, my solicitor from Carnforth, a barrister from Manchester and myself faced a phalanx of lawyers from London. The evidence of four bank managers was rejected, my evidence was believed, and the judge awarded me £253,000 in damages, plus all my costs. Yorkshire Bank had to pay all their costs, so they were out of pocket for an estimated £750,000.
The banks’ behaviour so far had been awful, but what is utterly despicable is that they didn’t then put their hands up and admit their guilt in all the other cases where they had duped muppets like me. After my case was reported in the national press I got calls from dozens of people who had been treated as I had been. The bank were refusing to admit to them that they had done anything wrong. Many were made bankrupt.
It turns out that it wasn’t just Yorkshire Bank, other High Street banks were up to similar tricks. The FSA has become involved and they have forced Barclays and others to pay hundreds of millions in compensation. Yorkshire Bank, it seems, have yet to hold up their hands, but pressure is mounting, as an article in the Yorkshire Post, which cited my case, has revealed.
My barrister, Sean Kelly, has written an article about my case in the hope it will help all those who are still fighting for compensation. Remarkably it seems that mine is the only case to have gone all the way through the court. For that, I owe a lot to Mr Kelly’s brilliance and the faith, tenacity and cleverness of my solicitor, Ian Gee – http://jwksolicitors.co.uk/
Incidentally the commission on the agreement which I was mis-sold was £37,000, as we found out in court. This was presumably shared out between my bank manager and his cronies. Not bad for a morning’s work.