People: Don’t bank on new RBS book until next year

BOOKS about the banking collapse are like buses – you wait five years and then two come along at once. Or maybe not.

Gavin Hewitt is stepping down from the SWA, and his successor could be known as early as today. Picture: Complimentary
Gavin Hewitt is stepping down from the SWA, and his successor could be known as early as today. Picture: Complimentary

Iain Martin, former editor of The Scotsman, weighed in with his version of the sorry saga of Royal Bank of Scotland in Making it Happen: Fred Goodwin, RBS and the Men Who Blew Up the British Economy, which was published last week. A racy tale filled with eyewitness accounts of confrontations in corridors and panic on private jets, his book is currently number one on Amazon’s business and economic history category.

But where is Ian Fraser’s effort, Shredded: The Rise and Fall of the Royal Bank of Scotland? He embarked on the tome having been a consultant on the BBC documentary RBS: Inside the Bank that Ran Out of Money, which was nominated for a Bafta last year.

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This summer Fraser took part in a sold-out slot at the Edinburgh International Book Festival along with Ray Perman, whose book Hubris: How HBOS Wrecked the Best Bank in Britain, was published last year. The paperback of Perman’s book had arrived in time for the fest but there was no sign of Fraser’s.

Although his book was originally scheduled for a book festival debut, keen punters were told it would be coming out in October and, following the festival, advance orders for Shredded via Amazon and the Birlinn website were strong.

But publisher Birlinn is thought to want some clear blue water between the two RBS tomes, and Fraser’s Shredded is now due out in March. Frustrating for Fraser, who submitted his manuscript in June, but he reckons there’s no lessening of appetite to find out what went wrong.

“I have to admit I’m frustrated his came out first,” says Fraser of Martin’s effort. “But there is still lots of desire among people to find out what really drove Fred, what drove the board, and what made them so utterly incompetent.”

He adds tantalisingly: “How did this bank get as big as it did and as out of control as it did, why did New Labour politicians and light touch regulators allow that to happen – what were the true reasons for its collapse? That is what my book is about.”

Surveyors go with the flow and back swimmer Benson

SCOTTISH surveying firm Graham & Sibbald has today dipped its toes into sports sponsorship as it takes under its water wings rising star Craig Benson from Livingston.

The surveyor’s grant will assist Craig with his accommodation and living expenses as he studies at Edinburgh University and trains at the Commonwealth pool in the run-up to the 2014 Glasgow games.

Ian Leighton, senior partner at Graham & Sibbald, says: “We hope our ‘rising star’ sponsorship will support Craig during this crucial period of his development and help him to fulfil his dreams. This is a great fit for our Scottish firm and here’s hoping that some of our staff and possibly clients will be poolside at next year’s Commonwealth Games encouraging Craig on to gold for Scotland.”

Benson says: “I am thrilled to receive support from Graham & Sibbald and this grant will enable me to live in a flat in Edinburgh. I had been travelling in from Livingston each day, sometimes twice a day to train at the Commonwealth pool and the distance was becoming a strain. Now I have a flat in the capital, I can really focus on the year ahead and hope to do my very best for Scotland at the games next year.”

SWA ready to serve up successor to Hewitt

WATCH out for an announcement as early as today on a successor to Gavin Hewitt as chief executive of the Scotch Whisky Association. Hewitt stands down at the end of the year, when he will be 69.

He can look back over his ten-year tenure at the trade body with some successes under his belt, including tariff negotiations that have opened up markets. He must also take pride in soaring whisky sales which are a major contributor to Britain’s exports. However, the minimum pricing debate with the Holyrood parliament means there are still battles to be fought on home soil.