Corporate crime

I am sure that every right-minded person in Scotland would wish Chief Constable Stephen House well on this, the dawn of a new era in policing in Scotland.

Not since Percy Sillitoe – who introduced police car radios and smashed the razor gangs in the 1930s – has a Glasgow chief constable been more in the ­limelight.

Like Sillitoe, Mr House is no stranger to innovative and controversial methods, as was seen in his promotion of the need for new laws – and resultant new specialist police unit – for offensive behaviour at football matches and offensive ­communications.

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One obvious area of crime that affects us all, and would benefit from a specialist team of police investigators, is “white-collar crime”, defined by sociologist Edwin Sutherland in 1939 as “a crime committed by a person of respectability and high social status in the course of his ­occupation”.

As a shareholder in HBOS, I suspect that I may have been a victim of such crime and while I believe there is an ongoing investigation into senior staff of HBOS in Reading (Operation Hornet), I am not aware of similar action in Scotland.

The scandal of the collapse of HBOS affected millions of Scots, irreparably damaging the reputation of our country in the process, and rumours abound of secret bank accounts held in the British Virgin Islands being contributory, if not responsible, for that collapse.

First Minister Alex Salmond said of the takeover of HBOS by Lloyds: “I am very angry that we can have a situation where a bank can be forced into a merger by basically a bunch of short-selling spivs and speculators in the financial markets.”

I am also very angry that the reputation of the Bank of Scotland – once a byword for financial prudence – has been traduced to the state whereby its shares are easy pickings for spivs.

I suspect criminality may be involved and I will be writing to our new chief constable to see if he shares my concerns and is prepared to investigate past activities at HBOS’s HQ in Edinburgh with the same zeal as his English colleagues are investigating the bank’s corporate division in Reading.

Tom Minogue