A senior BBC journalist has apologised to Nigel Farage for suggesting he lacked the funds needed to hold an account at Coutts after the private bank cut ties with the former Ukip leader.
The BBC’s business editor Simon Jack made the apology after a story published by the BCC suggested Mr Farage had his account shut for “falling below” the private bank’s wealth limit.
Mr Farage later acquired dossiers indicating his account was shut by Coutts, owned by the NatWest Group, because it had found his public statements did “not align” with its values.
The information on which we based our reporting on Nigel Farage and his bank accounts came from a trusted and senior source. However the information turned out to be incomplete and inaccurate. Therefore I would like to apologise to Mr Farage.
— Simon Jack (@BBCSimonJack) July 24, 2023Advertisement
The original story was updated last Friday, with the BBC acknowledging “that the information we reported – that Coutts’ decision on Nigel Farage’s account did not involve considerations about his political views – turned out not to be accurate”.
It told readers that the headline and article had been updated to reflect the fact that the “closure of Nigel Farage’s bank account came from a source”.
On Monday, Mr Jack tweeted: “The information on which we based our reporting on Nigel Farage and his bank accounts came from a trusted and senior source.
“However, the information turned out to be incomplete and inaccurate. Therefore, I would like to apologise to Mr Farage.”
It comes as a British minister Andrew Griffith summoned bank chiefs for a meeting to discuss how customers can be protected from “being de-banked”.
His letter to lenders is the latest Treasury response to the Coutts row, after ministers last week announced reforms to give customers greater protections against having accounts closed.
The closure of Mr Farage’s accounts sparked outrage among senior Tory MPs who piled pressure on Coutts and NatWest.
It saw NatWest chief executive Dame Alison Rose apologise for “deeply inappropriate comments” about him in official papers.
Coutts, the 17th-century bank which closed Mr Farage’s account earlier this year, cited Mr Farage’s retweet of a Ricky Gervais joke about trans women and his friendship with tennis player Novak Djokovic, who is opposed to Covid vaccinations, to flag concerns that he is “xenophobic and racist”, in documents seen by MailOnline.
Mr Farage, in a tweet on Monday, welcomed the apology from Mr Jack.
He said he had “also received a letter of apology from BBC News chief executive Deborah Turness, adding: “I am very grateful to both.”
Mr Griffith told banks that, while the reforms have yet to be enacted legally, the Government “expects” that “firms should seek to take action on this policy as soon as possible and make best endeavours to implement”.
New measures include making banks explain why they are shutting an account, which was not previously required.
The notice period for a forced account closure will be extended from 30 days to 90 days.
The British government said the extension should give customers more time to challenge a decision through the Financial Ombudsman Service or find a replacement bank.