When Alan texted me “this latest RBS story sounds uncannily like what happened to your co.” I was unaware of Mr Tomlinson’s existence and, of course, of that of his report. At the next opportunity offered by the great god WIFI I did some research and, as is the wonderful way with these things, quickly had the report on the screen before me. Gentle reader, I was amazed; not at the kind of thing RBS was getting up to (I already knew all about that), but at the apparent scale – which strongly suggests the client-bullying to have been systematic, in other words some sort of policy.
Writing long before Tomlinson’s report, in the (still unpublished) novel The Umbrella Men, I described the sort of bankers Tomlinson criticises thus:
The new characters on the scene at [RBS] seemed perfectly comfortable with their own sort of legal interpretation, without troubling to get it blessed by someone actually qualified in the law. They had all the qualifications they needed right there on the team – Richard Videur was Emeritus Professor of Client Maltreatment, Judd had an MA in Borrower Intimidation and Slight was studying at the Open University for a degree in Advanced Commercial Bullying.
The possibility that this expensively bailed-out bank was systematically maltreating SME customers suddenly imbued me with a kind of deferred anger which drove me to write the article below, which was published this week in the Spectator, an excellent weekly to which I urge you to subscribe forthwith.