HBOS staff on 'champagne break'

Three-hundred senior staff from a bank rescued with billions of pounds of taxpayers' money were treated to a £330,000 champagne break where they laughed at hardup borrowers facing repossession, it was claimed last night.

HBOS mortgage specialists were put up in five-star hotels for the lavish company bash on Friday night, and the bill for the "Annual Star Gala" included £60,000 for hotel rooms, £200-a-head four course meals, £45,000 in travel expenses and a £4,000 champagne reception, according to a report in the 'News of the World'.

Details of the freebie emerged as it was confirmed that an attempted boardroom putsch by the former heads of Bank of Scotland and Royal Bank of Scotland has been "unanimously" rejected by the HBOS board. In a letter to Sir Peter Burt and Sir George Mathewson, HBOS chairman Lord Stevenson said their proposal to replace him and the bank's chief executive did not form "the basis of any further discussion between us". The ex banking chiefs had earlier written to HBOS calling on the two men to resign in a bid to bring to an end the merger with Lloyds TSB.