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Outrage as Farage has bank account closed on grounds of personal views

Freedom of Speech
19 July 2023
Shutterstock 1058154602

Nigel Farage has been denied access to his account with private bank Coutts due to personal views not aligning to that of the companies.

The news of UKIP’s ex-leader account closure has sparked wider debate over a person’s right to lawful free speech not impending on their access to public services.

Ministers have backed Farage, with Energy Secretary Grant Shapps calling the decision “absolutely disgraceful”, and Treasury Minister Andrew Griffith saying it raises “serious concern”.

Despite this support, the decision from the Bank has emerged just as the government ruled not to introduce legislation that would address the trend of banks closing accounts on the grounds of a customer’s political views.

When questioned on whether there should be a law change, Mr Shapps told Sky News “Maybe. We will do whatever is required.” He went on to the say the sector’s watchdog, the Financial Conduct Authority, “does need to do more on this.”

He adds: “I don’t have to agree with everything Nigel Farage says to recognise that free speech is a very important part of our domestic life.

“What has happened with some of these banks through the regime, which is known as the PEP regime, or politically exposed people, is really actually scandalous.”

The bank originally claimed to the BBC that Mr Farage did not have sufficient funds to meet the threshold to have such an account.

According to an eligibility questionnaire on its website, Coutts requires customers to be able to borrow or invest £1 million or save at least £3 million.

But, according to the 40-page document provided by Coutts on the reason for the account closure, the decision could not be based on his financial contributions. There were instead mentions of tweets posted by Farage.

Minutes from a Coutts meeting prove that the bank could not continue serving Farage as a customer because his “publicly stated views were at odds” with their position as an “inclusive organisation”.

Farage says “I have effectively been de-banked. How do I pay my gas bill? What have I done wrong? I have not broken the law.”

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