Noel Edmonds warns Lloyds will have to up HBOS payout as court case looms
The former Deal Or No Deal star says he is meeting with his legal team next week.
Noel Edmonds has warned that Lloyds Banking Group will have to pay out significantly more compensation to victims of fraud at HBOS Reading, as the TV star prepares to take his £64 million battle with the lender to court.
A series of letters released by the Treasury Select Committee show the lender has paid out £75 million so far to victims, with some complainants taking home up to £5 million each.
That leaves £25 million for remaining members of the review, if Lloyds were to stay within its existing provisions of £100 million.
But Mr Edmonds claims Lloyds will have to pay out a much higher figure in legal claims outside of that figure.
“I believe from the meetings that I had that the scale of legal claims (outside the Lloyds review) are over £1 billion,” he told the Press Association.
He is pursuing Lloyds for £64 million in damages for losses allegedly suffered when his former business Unique Group was destroyed because of the fraud.
Corrupt financiers from the HBOS Reading branch were jailed last year for the £245 million loans scam which destroyed several businesses, before they squandered the profits on high-end prostitutes and luxury holidays.
Mr Edmonds said next week was “big” for him as he will meet with his legal team on July 10 to decide when to file court papers, as he plans to pursue his own claim.
“Heads have got to roll, starting with Lord Blackwell, and also Antonio (Horta-Osorio) and the board,” he said, again calling out the Lloyds chairman and chief executive.
Lloyds’ £100 million provision does not account for potential court settlements related to HBOS, as pending legal cases cannot be calculated in the same way.
It means Mr Edmonds’ legal claim would be paid out separately, as he is not part of the compensation review – which bars victims from taking Lloyds to court once settlements are accepted.
Lloyds said it had “made determined efforts to reach a consensual resolution with Mr Edmonds through mediation late last year, but this was not possible”.
“As a formal litigation process has begun it would be inappropriate to comment other than to say his claim will be contested.”
The offers from Lloyds have so far ranged from less than £100,000 to more than £5 million, with £63 million of the total having been doled out on the basis of “distress and inconvenience” suffered by customers.
Nearly 90% of victims have received offers and 80% have accepted and settled their cases.
Details of the compensation paid out to date were published in a series of letters that included correspondence from Dame Linda Dobbs, who was asked by Treasury Committee chair Nicky Morgan when her report will be completed.
Dame Linda is investigating whether the HBOS Reading fraud was properly investigated and reported to authorities by Lloyds following its acquisition of the banking group, and whether any individuals at the bank sought to cover up or repress information.
She said the report would likely be completed in the second half of 2019, with Lloyds having pledged to share the findings with the committee once available.
Lloyds Banking Group said: “Lloyds Banking Group remains determined to get to the bottom of what happened in HBOS Reading.
“We share the Treasury Committee’s desire for transparency and for the Dame Linda Dobbs independent review to be completed as quickly as is possible.”
Parliament’s response has been slow initially, but I’m very pleased that Nicky Morgan is asking the right questions, the questions that I have been asking Noel Edmonds
But Ms Morgan said the timeline was “disappointing”.
“It’s almost a decade since Lloyds’ takeover of HBOS, nearly 18 months since the six individuals connected to the HBOS Reading fraud were convicted, and just over 14 months since Dame Linda was appointed to review HBOS Reading.
“Yet it will be a further 12-18 months until Dame Linda’s report will be completed. Whilst the committee welcomes Lloyds’ commitment to provide it with the report, a publication date of mid-to-late 2019 is disappointing.
“It is overwhelmingly in the public interest – especially to those who were victims of the HBOS Reading fraud – to understand how such large-scale criminal behaviour was allowed to happen, who knew about it, and when.
“Whether it’s a case of insufficient resources or competing priorities at Lloyds, they should do all they can to ensure a swift conclusion of this work.”
Her comments come weeks after the publication of a damning report from 2013 which claimed Lloyds had evidence of fraud at the HBOS Reading unit just months before rescuing HBOS at the height of the financial crisis.
It also alleges that the “strategy since July 2007, and possibly from 2005, has been to conceal the Reading incident”.
Mr Edmonds said: “Parliament’s response has been slow initially, but I’m very pleased that Nicky Morgan is asking the right questions, the questions that I have been asking.
“I’m relieved that the Treasury Committee are going for this, it’s a new era.”