Anthony Hilton: Levene limbers up for a showdown with TSC

On Tuesday the former head of the Co-op got the kind of mauling in front of the Treasury Select Committee which you might expect given that the Co-operative Bank is now on its knees.

However one of the guests at Bronek's insurance bash the following evening was Lord Levene, who spent much of last year trying to buy the 600 branches which Lloyds was being forced to sell – only to lose out in the end to a bid from the Co-op.

This rankles with him. Not only was Co-op Bank in no position to complete the purchase – as was subsequently proved – but he told me that its offer was significantly less than the price Levene's team were prepared to pay. This has giving rise to suspicions that the sale was hijacked by a desire in Westminster to create a big, mutually owned bank – with the Co-op as the only candidate.

Now the great thing about select committees is that their hearings are covered by Parliamentary privilege. Thus people can say things in there which might see them done for libel if voiced outside – or indeed in this column. Lord Levene is likely to appear before one in late November so stand by for fireworks.

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