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Nigel Farage’s data rights infringed by Natwest chief, watchdog rules

Farage calls on bank to cut severance pay to ex-bank boss – accusing her of overseeing a ‘woke’ culture

Adam Forrest
Political Correspondent
Thursday 26 October 2023 07:51 BST
Priti Patel dances with Nigel Farage at Conservative Party conference

The former chief executive of NatWest infringed on Nigel Farage’s data protection rights when she talked to a journalist about his relationship with Coutts bank, the information watchdog has ruled.

Mr Farage has called for NatWest to cut the severance pay of former boss Dame Alison Rose after the finding – accusing her of overseeing a “woke” culture at the bank.

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) said the disclosure of Mr Farage’s data, amid the furore of the decision to close his accounts, had been “unacceptable”.

The former CEO resigned earlier this year after admitting a “serious error of judgment” by discussing with a BBC journalist Mr Farage’s relationship with Coutts, which is owned by NatWest Group.

She said she did not share any personal financial information, but was “wrong to respond to any question raised by the BBC about this case”.

The bank’s board is set to meet today to discuss her severance package, which could reportedly be more than £10m in pay, stock and bonuses.

Writing in the Telegraph, Mr Farage said Dame Alison had “dragged its name through the mud” and introduced a “woke agenda” at the bank, as well as breaking data protection laws by discussing his account with the BBC.

The ex-Ukip leader and Brexit campaigner added: “To reward these failings with a massive sum of money would be wrong. It is clear that, to some NatWest group staff, my debanking was a great big joke.”

In an angry tirade against the bank earlier this week, Mr Farage also revealed the internal documents referred to him a “crackpot”, “sketchy” and “a fool”.

Nigel Farage has fumed against Natwest group after bank closure (PA Wire)

Mr Farage was also described in one of the emails as an “awful human being”, while another said they would have paid a significant sum to have been the one to tell the GB News presenter his account was shut.

Dame Alison’s departure came hours after the board said it had full confidence in her, meaning the bank was forced to backpedal after the statement was given.

The ruling comes at a sensitive time for NatWest, which is due to announce quarterly results on Friday.

In a statement on Wednesday, an ICO spokesperson said: “Following a thorough review of the complaint raised with us, we have concluded our investigation.

“We upheld two parts of the complaint - namely, we found that an individual employed by Natwest shared information when they should not have done, and that by doing so they infringed the complainant’s data protection rights.

“We have been clear with the bank that these actions were unacceptable and should not happen again. However, in view of the fact the individual in question resigned her post and the bank has commissioned its own investigation, we do not intend to take any further regulatory action at this time.”

A NatWest spokesperson said: “We fully co-operate with the ICO in its assessment of any customer complaint, but it would not be appropriate for us to comment on this individual case.”

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