The veteran broadcaster, Noel Edmonds, has demanded as much as £50 million in compensation from the banking group Lloyds, after claiming a fraud scandal which engulfed its HBoS subsidiary led to the collapse of his business.
The television entertainer’s lawyers have written to the chief executive of Lloyds, arguing that his Unique Group firm went to the wall due to the fraudulent activities of its HBoS Reading arm.
In the letter to António Horta-Osório, lawyers for Mr Edmonds said the presenter had “suffered immense economic loss as well as (to put it very mildly) distress and inconvenience at the hands of your bank.”
The claim centres around fraud at the corporate division of HBoS in Berkshire. In February, six people were jailed after a jury was told how they squandered the proceeds of their fraudulent activities while destroying businesses they had lent money to.
They included former banker, Mark Dobson, who was sentenced to four-and-a-half years in prison and is referred to in the letter sent to Mr Horta-Osório by Mr Edmonds’ legal team.
Lloyds has set aside £100m to compensate the victims of the HBoS Reading fraud, but if successful, Mr Edmonds’ claim could account for half the overall amount.
Mr Edmonds, who presented the popular gameshow Deal Or No Deal for more than a decade, claims HBoS prevented him from selling shares in another business, UBC, which would have helped him repay a loan to HBoS. Mr Dodson, the letter adds, effectively became a shadow of director of Unique.
It states: “Had the sale of shares in UBC not been blocked, then the Unique bank accounts would have been in the black to the tune of about £1m.
HBoS put Unique into liquidation in April 2007, at which stage it owed £2.5m on its loan facility, down from £4.4m in the autumn of 2005.
Mr Edmonds, who also claims his personal reputation suffered as a result of his collapsed business, said: “I confirm my lawyers have sent a detailed claim letter seeking compensation from Lloyds for the losses that I suffered as a result of fraud committed against me by one of its managers.
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His solicitor, Jonathan Coad, from Keystone Law, said: “We expect half of the £100m to go to my client, and we expect Lloyds will have to increase their provision substantially.”
Lloyds has not confirmed the claim from Mr Edmonds, or that it had been included in its compensation review. A total of 64 customers, including Mr Edmonds, are due to receive recompense.