Jon Sopel apologises to Nigel Farage after ex-BBC correspondent mocked the former UKIP leader over Coutts closing his account down and says episode will ‘teach me to trust reporting of my old employer’
- Broadcaster Jon Sopel apologised after mocking Nigel Farage’s Coutts exclusion
- Farage this week uncovered a dossier the private bank had compiled against him
Broadcaster Jon Sopel has issued an apology to Nigel Farage after previously mocking the former UKIP leader’s cancelled account with bank Coutts.
On July 4, Sopel joked about Farage’s complaint, following initial BBC reports that Coutts didn’t cater for clients with less than £1million in their current account.
Sopel, himself an ex-BBC correspondent, tweeted: ‘You must feel a bit of a Charlie if you’re Nigel Farage, and you claim that it’s all an establishment stitch up that your account’s been closed when it’s just you’re not rich enough for Coutt’s.
‘Am thinking of starting a “go fund me” page for Nige to get him his account back.’
Jon Sopel has issued an apology to Nigel Farage after poking fun at the former UKIP leader’s cancelled account with bank Coutts
Sopel mocked Farage’s complaint against Coutts, only to row back this week when it was revealed the bank had compiled a dossier against the UKIP leader with stinging criticisms
Farage is calling on Parliament to hold an inquiry into Coutts’ alleged discrimination
Sopel retweeted claims from BBC Business editor Simon Jack that Farage fell below the financial threshold for Coutts. It emerged that Jack sat next to the bank’s boss, Dame Alison Rose, at an event the previous night
Farage got his own back on Sopel, tweeting: ‘Hi Jon. Who is the Charlie now? Looks like it’s you for swallowing the Coutts PR spin. I look forward to your apology.’
Today, Sopel tweeted: ‘Dear Nigel, Always believed when I get things wrong, I own up to it. I got it wrong. Sorry. That will teach me to trust reporting of my old employer
‘If your political views were even part of the reason why account was suspended from #Coutts that is totally reprehensible.’
Farage has today called on parliamentary to hold an inquiry into Coutts’ decision to close his account, as the bank’s bosses scramble to defend what appears to have a politicised decision.
A secret dossier compiled by the bank on Mr Farage before his exclusion categorised his views as ‘xenophobic, chauvinistic and racist’, and it also castigated his ‘Thatcherite beliefs’.
In an interview with Bloomberg Radio, Farage said Coutts’ bosses should appear before a Parliamentary select committee to explain ‘why they are making political and moral judgments on customers of theirs who meet their financial requirements and who give opinions that are entirely within the law’.
After successfully getting access to the dossier against him, Farage got his own back on Sopel – joking ‘who is the Charlie now?’
In a letter to the former Ukip leader, Dame Alison Rose insisted the assessment of Mr Farage ‘does not reflect the views of the bank’
This week Mr Farage obtained a 40-page dossier from Coutts, using a subject access request, to gain information about the decision and it revealed his politics appeared to be involved
The BBC’s £214,999-a-year Business Editor Simon Jack reportedly sat next to NatWest chief executive Dame Alison Rose at a charity event on the day before the BBC quoted Coutts sources. Mr Farage wants to know if that source was Dame Alison
Coutts initially responded by saying ‘It is not Coutt’s policy to close customer accounts solely on the basis of legally held political and personal views’
The head of NatWest, Dame Alison Rose, is facing questions over whether she personally briefed the media about Nigel Farage’s finances.
The BBC’s £214,999-a-year Business Editor Simon Jack sat next to chief executive Dame Alison at a charity dinner at the 5-star Langham Hotel across from Broadcasting House on July 3, the Telegraph said.
The following day Mr Jack wrote for the BBC website and tweeted that Mr Farage had lost his bank accounts because of a lack of funds, quoting ‘people familiar with Coutts’ move’.
In a letter to Farage today, Dame Alison apologised for the dossier but stopped short of offering to restore Farage’s Coutts’ account, instead offering an account with its parent company Natwest.
She wrote: ‘I am writing to apologise for the deeply inappropriate comments about yourself made in the now published papers prepared for the Wealth Committee.
‘I would like to make it clear that they do not reflect the view of the bank.
‘I believe very strongly that freedom of expression and access to banking are fundamental to our society and it is absolutely not our policy to exit a customer on the basis of legally held political and personal views.’
In light of Farage’s demands for an inquiry, Downing Street said it agreed rules for bank needed ‘toughening up’ so they do not exclude customers based on their political beliefs.
The Prime Minister’s official spokesman told reporters: ‘We are reviewing evidence from the consultation on freedom of expression in the provision of payment services and will report on the findings soon.
‘You’ll know we’ve recently passed a law that requires the FCA (Financial Conduct Authority) to review how banks treat what are known as politically exposed persons so we can strike the balance between a customer’s right to free speech and the bank’s right to manage commercial risks.’
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