Security at the homes of current and former senior executives at the Royal Bank of Scotland was being tightened yesterday after vandals staged a pre-dawn attack on the Edinburgh home of Sir Fred Goodwin and said it was "just the beginning" of a campaign against wealthy financiers.
The £3m Victorian villa belonging to the former RBS chief executive in the well-heeled suburb of Morningside was left with metre-wide holes in four ground-floor windows after an unknown number of attackers struck at 4.35am. A £102,000 black Mercedes S600 parked on the drive also had its side windows and windscreen smashed.
Within 30 minutes of the attack, two almost identical emails were sent to media organisations acknowledging the vandalism and claiming it was motivated by anger at the payouts that figures such as Sir Fred had received. Sir Fred's refusal to surrender any of his £16.9m pension has made him, to many, public enemy No 1 of the banking crisis.
One of the emails, which was sent under the alias of Moira McLeod from email@example.com, named the street where Sir Fred lived and said: "We are angry that rich people, like him, are paying themselves a huge amount of money and living in luxury, while ordinary people are made unemployed, destitute and homeless. Bank bosses should be jailed. This is just the beginning."
Sir Fred, 50, who is understood to have left the house with his wife and two children in February and is now living abroad, told friends he was "shaken" by the attack and that those responsible had "gone too far".
Lothian and Borders Police said it was taking the threat of further reprisals "very seriously" and had offered advice to individuals who might be targeted.
Detectives were last night examining CCTV footage from the house to try to trace the attackers.
RBS pays £290 a month for a security firm to monitor Sir Fred's house. It declined to discuss the measures it was taking for specific individuals but a source at the bank, now 70 per cent owned by the taxpayer, said: "Some members of the board such as Sir Fred were offered security for their homes while they worked for the bank and that has been continued on a temporary basis. We have robust security in place and any further measures required in the light of these events are being taken." The attack took place amid attempts by anti-capitalist and anarchist groups to sow unease among financial institutions about direct action surrounding next week's G20 summit. Websites publicising protests have warned of attacks designed to bring the City to a halt, and slogans such as "Burn a banker".
Sir Fred took early retirement from RBS last year as the bank he boasted had been promoted "to the top of the premier league" of international finance under his supervision began to implode. Despite the announcement of a record corporate loss of £24.1bn for 2008, Sir Fred said pressure on him to surrender part of his £700,000 annual pension was "not warranted".
Gordon Brown has threatened legal action to recover some of the payout. His spokesman said: "On the question of damage to his property, there can be no excuse for people breaking the law."
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