Metro Bank has insisted it is politically neutral after being accused of closing down the Reform UK party’s account because of its support for Brexit.
The party’s leader Richard Tice believes Reform has been caught up in the same debanking scandal as his friend and former UKIP leader Nigel Farage and has written to Metro demanding answers.
The Treasury has announced banks will be forced to give customers three months’ notice of account closures and to provide a full explanation of the reasons in response to the controversy triggered by wealthy private bank Coutts cutting ties with Mr Farage.
Mr Tice is a prominent Brexiteer who was in UKIP prior to setting up the Brexit Party, which later became Reform UK. He has revealed Metro Bank closed his party’s account in July 2021.
A letter sent to him at the time gives no reason.
Mr Tice told Sky News: “I was suspicious at the time but didn’t join enough of the dots. But it is crystal clear now what has gone on. I have submitted a subject access request and look forward to seeing it.”
Metro Bank said in a statement: “Metro Bank is and will remain politically neutral and it is not our policy to close an account due to the political or personal beliefs of an individual or organisation. We cannot comment on individual cases.”
Meanwhile, Mr Farage has formally accused the NatWest Group of passing his personal and financial data to the BBC.
He has also complained to the Information Commissioner about the way in which his personal details have been handled by NatWest and its subsidiary, Coutts Bank.
A letter from his lawyers to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) mentions a BBC news report which claimed he was losing his account at Coutts because he had fallen below a required £1m threshold.
Mr Farage made a subject access request to Coutts to discover why his account was being closed.
He revealed he had received a 40-page document showing he met the “criteria for commercial retention” but Coutts – a bank also used by the Royal Family – wanted him to leave because of his views, which ranged from his position on LGBTQ+ rights to his friendship with former US president Donald Trump.
Mr Farage tweeted on Saturday: “The BBC report gives rise to the inescapable conclusion that NatWest Group provided the media with confidential information (and personal data) regarding my financial affairs.
“This would constitute a serious data breach and, worse still, disregard client confidentiality by the bank.
“My legal team have written to the ICO asking them to investigate and take action.”
Are banks allowed to close accounts?
Key points from Coutts’ dossier on Nigel Farage
The BBC has admitted part of its reporting was inaccurate in light of the new evidence, in a post on its webpage dedicated to corrections and clarifications.
On Thursday, NatWest Group CEO Dame Alison Rose wrote to Mr Farage to apologise.
But the letter from his legal team to the ICO adds: “Conspicuously, she did not apologise for any information that had been passed to the media citing inadequate finances as the reason for the closure of his accounts.”