Occupy protesters talk reform with banking boss

FSA chief Hector Sants holds hour-long meeting to hear views on changes to City regulation

Demonstrators who have camped outside St Paul's Cathedral since October met the head of the Financial Services Authority last night to discuss proposed changes to the way the banking system is regulated.

Their private meeting with Hector Sants provided an opportunity for the protesters, who are angry at inequalities between the financial sector and poorer sections of society, to put their ideas to one of the most powerful men in the industry.

According to one of the 10 demonstrators present at the hour-long discussion, Mr Sants admitted that the FSA has "had a light touch with regulation in the past and that should change".

Emma Fordham said: "There were areas where we agreed, but it was clear that we want to go further with a lot of things than the FSA does. We agreed that having banks that are 'too big to fail' which are then bailed out by normal people is wrong and Mr Sants said he wanted to avoid that in future."

The meeting is the first between high-ranking representatives of the financial industry and members of the Occupy London movement and represents a coup for the protesters, who face eviction from two of the three sites they have set up in the City.

"This is a significant step for us. It shows that, if you feel strongly about something and take action over it, even a normal person like me can sit down with someone who actually has some influence and have an open discussion. We are not coming away from the meeting and thinking 'Woo-hoo', but it is a step forward," said Ms Fordham.

The discussions, organised by the St Paul's Institute, were said to be respectful, with Mr Sants fielding questions on what regulatory changes the FSA is planning and when they might be introduced. The demonstrators called for a "future system that is democratic, just, open, accountable and transparent" and discussed the need for regulators to be "genuinely independent of the industries they regulate". Ken Costa, a former vice chairman of the bank UBS, and the Bishop of London Richard Chartres were also present. The FSA said the meeting recognised "the importance of the financial services industry engaging more with the general public".

A spokesman said: "The meeting will be the first in a programme of events organised by the Church, called London Connect, designed to open up a dialogue between the City and public."

Ahead of the discussions, James Hargreaves, an Occupy London supporter, said: "It is great that Hector Sants has shown willingness to engage with Occupy London, as well as Ken Costa and the Bishop of London, at this precarious time for the financial system.

"Since decisions taken by the FSA on regulatory change affect the global financial markets, it is essential to get real feedback and suggestions from the public."

Campaigners have been camped in the courtyard of St Paul's since 15 October. The group also occupies Finsbury Square in the City, as well as an abandoned UBS-owned office block in Hackney, which it has dubbed the "Bank of Ideas".

Camp offers visitors a crisis tour of London

London is already known for its open top buses, Thames riverboat cruises and Jack the Ripper walks – but there's now a new tour guide in town. How about an enlightening – if somewhat partisan – tour of the capital's financial district by Occupy London?

The protesters' first sightseeing tour this week took in the former London headquarters of Lehman Brothers, which collapsed in 2008, as well as those of credit rating agency Moody's and the banks CitiGroup and Barclays. KPMG's Canary Wharf HQ was also on the itinerary, as were those of HSBC and Bank of America, all of whom the group blame for causing the financial crisis.

Liam Taylor, the tour guide, told guests: "You are now standing in Tower Hamlets, the local authority with the second highest rate of severe child poverty in the country, and highest level of youth unemployment in London."

Further tours are planned for the New Year, taking in some of Mayfair's hedge funds. The group also plans concerts outside St Paul's after the success of an impromptu gig by Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke, Massive Attack's 3D and UNKLE's Tim Goldworthy on Tuesday night.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
Joel Edgerton, John Turturro and Christian Bale in Exodus: Gods and Kings
film
Arts and Entertainment
Brendan O'Carroll as Agnes Brown in the 2014 Mrs Brown's Boys Christmas special
tvCould Mrs Brown's Boys have taken lead for second year?
News
Members and supporters of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) community walk with a rainbow flag during a rally in July
news
Sport
footballLive! Chelsea vs West Ham kicked off 10 Boxing Day matches, with Arsenal vs QPR closing the action
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Jack O'Connell stars as Louis Zamperini in Angelina Jolie's Unbroken
film review... even if Jack O'Connell is excellent
Arts and Entertainment
Madonna is not in Twitter's good books after describing her album leak as 'artistic rape and terrorism'
music14 more 'Rebel Heart' tracks leaked including Pharrell Williams collaboration
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
Wolf (Nathan McMullen), Ian (Dan Starky), The Doctor (Peter Capaldi), Clara (Jenna Coleman), Santa Claus (Nick Frost) in the Doctor Who Christmas Special (BBC/Photographer: David Venni)
tvOur review of the Doctor Who Christmas Special
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executive- City of London, Old Street

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executiv...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: An international organisa...

Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwickshire

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwicksh...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager/Marketing Controller (Financial Services)

£70000 - £75000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager/Marketi...

Day In a Page

A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all