NatWest CEO Alison Rose steps down over Nigel Farage row
Paul Thwaite will temporarily take over as CEO following Rose’s resignation over the closure of the former Ukip leader’s Coutts account.
Dame Alison Rose, chief executive officer of NatWest Group, has resigned after admitting to sharing inaccurate information with the BBC about Nigel Farage’s private bank account closure.
Rose, who was with NatWest for more than 30 years and who made history as the bank’s first female CEO in 2019, is stepping down after a row over the former Ukip leader’s account with private bank Coutts.
Farage complained about a BBC report claiming his accounts were closed solely for commercial reasons.
The BBC has since apologised for the error and corrected the story, while Rose has apologised to Farage about the “deeply inappropriate comments”.
She also acknowledged a “serious error in judgement”, admitting this week that she gave a BBC reporter the impression that Coutts made its decision solely for commercial reasons.
A dossier that Farage received using a subject access request revealed that falling below Coutts’ wealth threshold was just one of the reasons the politician’s account was closed.
Considering his politics to be a reputational risk, the document noted “xenophobic, chauvinistic and racist views” and said Farage is “considered by many to be a disingenuous grifter”.
In a statement, the private bank said “it is not Coutts’ policy to close customer access accounts solely on the basis of legally held political and personal views”.
“This bank are (sic) behaving now like a political campaigning organisation,” Farage said on BBC Newsnight.
He also called for the entire board to quit on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme because it approved a statement from Rose where she said she had not revealed “any personal financial information”, which he said was at odds with the BBC’s apology.
“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,” NatWest Group chair Sir Howard Davies said in a statement.
“She has dedicated all her working life so far to NatWest and will leave many colleagues who respect and admire her.”
Rose issued her own statement thanking her colleagues for “all that they have done” and saying they were central to the bank’s success.
“I remain immensely proud of the progress the bank has made in supporting people, families and businesses across the UK, and building the foundations for sustainable growth,” Rose said.
Having been bailed out by taxpayers in the 2008 financial crisis, NatWest is still 38.6 per cent owned by the UK government.
Economic Secretary to the Treasury Andrew Griffith MP took to Twitter to praise Rose’s resignation.
“It is right that the NatWest CEO has resigned. This would never have happened if NatWest had not taken it upon itself to withdraw a bank account due to someone’s lawful political views. That was and is always unacceptable,” he wrote.
“I hope the whole financial sector learns from this incident. Its role is to serve customers well and fairly - not to tell them how or what to think.”