Mark Leftly: Andy Hornby should pick up the phone as a first step towards real repentance

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The Independent Online

Outlook "In the Abrahamic Bible that unites Christians, Jews and Muslims there are 2,350 verses on wealth and power and just 100 on sex," says Paul Moore. "So we know what God thinks."

It's 21 April 2011, and Mr Moore is sitting in a first-class train carriage at King's Cross, waiting for its departure to Sunderland, via York. The devout Christian had become relatively famous over the previous few years, having blown the whistle on the outrageously risk-taking culture at HBOS that had led to the failed bank being rescued by Lloyds in 2008.

Mr Moore had been sacked as head of the bank's regulatory risk group in 2004 after warning the board that HBOS was heading for disaster.

A trained lawyer, Mr Moore had signed a gagging order, which he broke under Parliamentary privilege because it was in the public's interest for them to find out just what had happened at HBOS.

Looking out the window of that carriage two years ago and who should walk past but Andy Hornby, who was chief executive when HBOS effectively collapsed. Surely, he thought, Mr Hornby would also be in first class.

Mr Moore waited until the train departed and Mr Hornby was nowhere to be seen. There was only one standard-class carriage in front of first and Mr Moore made his way down the aisle past a throng of standing, fed-up commuters until he found Hornby.

One of the most vilified bankers of the banking crisis looked shocked to see a man he surely considered an enemy, probably worried that he would cause a scene in front of so many people at the height of banker bashing. Mr Moore, though, was aware that it was Maundy Thursday, a day of reconciliation, and he thought that this was too much of a coincidence to ignore.

"Hello Andy, are you prepared to have a chat at York station?" asked Mr Moore.

"Yes, OK," replied Mr Hornby.

A little over two hours later and the men stood face-to-face on the platform.

"Andy, I want you to know that I don't hate you, but you did some things that were wrong. I would like to find a way of reconciling with you."

Mr Hornby, who was apparently shaking, tilted his head and replied: "Well, Paul, it's all a question of morality, isn't it?"

It appeared that Mr Hornby thought it was Mr Moore who needed to do the apologising, that breaking the gagging order was worse than overseeing a reckless strategy which has seen nearly 40,000 people lose their jobs since HBOS became a part of Lloyds.

This was also a strategy that came so close to wrecking the whole financial system and led to a huge bailout.

As they departed, Mr Moore suggested meeting up again and asked Mr Hornby to call him. The phone never rang.

This is Mr Moore's version of that chance meeting. He says that the invitation to Mr Hornby to phone him is still open, that he is willing to advise the former HBOS boss on how to reach a sense of peace over his disastrous tenure.

"I could help him do what he needs to do," says Mr Moore.

"He needs to make a full public, written apology and answer questions to the media.

"I have a set of suggestions for making amends.

"There are the negatives, like giving up his HBOS pension [worth £240,000-a-year] and the positives, such as putting £1m into a charity to help the people who lost their jobs. What happens when you do that is forgiveness races towards genuine repentance, which includes making amends, at God's speed."

The religion of all this might be a bit much for some tastes and £1m for charity sounds a bit high given that of all the major protagonists of the financial crisis, Mr Hornby would be, by a huge distance, one of the least wealthy. He's also an approachable, pleasant and polite guy who is considered to be doing a sterling job at bookie Coral, where he is now chief executive.

But, given the public pressure that Mr Hornby is under after his predecessor and prime architect of the HBOS strategy, Sir James Crosby, agreed to cede part of his pension and knighthood earlier this week, maybe it's time to pick up the phone.