Simon English: Even the Ministry of Truth would struggle to portray this as 'Orwellian'

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The Independent Online

Outlook Would George Orwell have approved of Peter Cummings? The former HBOS banker to the stars clearly thinks so. His response to the £500,000 fine imposed on him by the Financial Services Authority was to say that he had been "subjected to an extraordinary Orwellian process" by a brutal organisation, one that might come from the pages of the author's masterpiece Nineteen Eighty-Four.

An Old Etonian and a socialist, Orwell's tastes weren't always predictable, but it seems fair to guess that they did not extend to bankers, certainly not ones behind a buccaneering culture that contributed to the collapse of an organisation that millions relied upon to look after their savings and lend them their mortgages.

The banker-as-victim card is one that a few of them have tried to play lately, and it seems like a duff hand.

That they can't understand why (some of them) have been prevented from continuing exactly as before shows how far behind the curve they remain.

If you get tortured until you love Big Brother, that's Orwellian. If you get fined money you presumably can easily pay and are banned from jobs in the City you wouldn't have got in any case, well, that's irksome.

So far as we know, Mr Cummings lives contentedly in his Scottish home, surrounded by friends and family all happy to believe that he's a great guy who fell on the wrong side of a brutally awful legal process.

Mr Cummings' point that other people should get done over the HBOS fiasco is a fair one. They should. It doesn't follow that he shouldn't have been. The spinning on his behalf since the judgment came out is laughable, often based around the seeming notion that Mr Cummings is a good bloke to have a pint with, as if the FSA's case was based on suggestions otherwise.

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