James Moore: Mervyn King's the man who may shed light on this Co-op conspiracy theory
Outlook Was NBNK denied the chance to buy Lloyds Banking Group's 600-branch Verde business because of a devilish conspiracy organised by politicians in support of the Co-op?
That was the picture presented by NBNK's former chairman Lord Levene and chief executive Gary Hoffman yesterday.
Quite a few of the MPs on the Treasury committee who questioned them seemed inclined to scoff a bit.
From one standpoint that's understandable enough. The chances of such an organised plot against NBNK succeeding seems rather unlikely given the nature of Britain's often dysfunctional government.
On the other hand, those MPs are very much a part of a system where secrecy is endemic, business is frequently conducted via a nod and a wink and where messages are often delivered en passant.
As such it was disingenuous of them to criticise Lord Levene for having little in the way of hard evidence for his claims.
What we do know is that the Co-op had powerful supporters in a Government which just happened to be the biggest – indeed the controlling – shareholder in Lloyds.
Lloyds would find it very hard to ignore their wishes, were they communicated to the bank as has been implied.
In actuality it may very well be, as John Thurso suggested at the end of the hearing, that what Lloyds really wanted to do all along was to float Verde off, something it is now doing with Verde having been renamed TSB.
This would clearly be its best option because it isn't exactly in Lloyds' interests to see the emergence of a vibrant, and aggressive, challenger. It's hard to see TSB becoming that given it will be reliant on Lloyds systems and processes.
But questions remain. Lord Levene may have overstated his case a bit and laid himself open to accusations of sour grapes. No one likes a sour loser.
Here's the thing, though. He claims he was told by no less than Mervyn King that the decision on Verde's future would be political. He also says Lord King recently gave his blessing for Lord Levene to reveal his identity as the source for this assertion.
If that's the case, then we need to hear from Lord King. After all, he had no axe to grind in this fight. Yesterday's hearing muddied the waters, and contained a good bit more heat than light. Lord King could clarify matters.
His retirement just got a whole lot more interesting. Perhaps he intended for that to happen.
- 1 Forget 'The Dress': Here are five of the biggest news stories you might have missed
- 2 The black and blue dress: Makers considering a white and gold version
- 3 Prince Harry leaving the armed forced to pursue conservation projects in Africa
- 4 PornHub turns masturbation into energy in bid to save the planet
- 5 The remarkable archaeological underwater discovery that could open up a new chapter in the study of European and British prehistory
Boris Nemtsov shot dead: Outspoken Putin critic who had expressed fears for his life is killed near the Kremlin
Leonard Nimoy dead: Star Trek Spock actor dies after suffering lung disease
PornHub turns masturbation into energy in bid to save the planet
Ukraine crisis: Top Chinese diplomat backs Putin, says West should 'abandon zero-sum mentality'
White and gold or blue and black – what colour is the dress? An eyewitness gives a definitive answer
New theory could prove how life began and disprove God
Half of Ukip voters say they are prejudiced against people of other races
'Cash for access' scandal: Sir Malcolm Rifkind says 'unrealistic' for MPs to live on £67,000 salary
This is what it's like to be dead, according to a guy who died for a bit
'Jihadi John': CAGE representative storms off Sky News accusing Kay Burley of Islamophobia
Aqsa Mahmood branded a 'disgrace' by her parents after claims she recruited three UK girls flying to Middle East
iJobs Money & Business
£40000 - £50000 per annum + pro rata: SThree: SThree Group have been well esta...
£30000 - £37000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Established in 1999, a highly r...
£250-£300 Day Rate: Jemma Gent: Are you a qualified accountant with strong exp...
£230 - £260 Day Rate: Jemma Gent: Do you want to stamp your footprint in histo...