Our concerns led us to bring the then Secretary of State for Business, Peter Mandelson, to the Competition Appeal Tribunal on the basis that his decision not to refer the merger to the Competition Commission was invalid.
The case was lost, but only after a dossier was provided to the judges in camera by lawyers acting for the Secretary of State to which the public was denied access.
In retrospect, and now in light of the comments by Sir John Vickers, chairman of the Independent Commission on Banking, that the merger was a mistake, is it not perhaps time to see the hidden dossier to understand what the Secretary of State really knew at the time?
If the decision by Lord Mandelson to reject the recommendation by the Office of Fair Trading to refer the merger was also a mistake, then perhaps it is time to rectify this by a proper review by the Competition Commission.
If the Competition Commission reports that the merger did, indeed, result in an unhealthy concentration in lending to SMEs, then should not the consequence be to split the business?
PETER DE VINK