Ex-HBOS chief James Crosby ‘should lose knighthood’

Former HBOS chief executive Sir James Crosby should be stripped of his knighthood after a damning report that criticised his role in the collapse of the bank, politicians have said.

The calls came as Sir James stepped down from his role as an adviser to private equity firm Bridgepoint.

In a report published today, the Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards said Sir James had been the “architect of the strategy that set the course for disaster” and that he held primary responsibility for the collapse, along with his successor as chief executive, Andy Hornby, and former chairman Lord Stevenson.

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MSPs said that Sir James should lose the knighthood he was awarded for services to the financial services industry in the same way Fred Goodwin lost his honour after Royal Bank of Scotland had to be bailed out by the taxpayer.

The head of Holyrood’s economy committee, Tory MSP Murdo Fraser, said he would be writing to the UK’s Honours Forfeiture Committee asking that Sir James lose his title.

He said he was acting after the report said Sir James was among the bankers responsible for “toxic” misjudgments that led to the bank’s collapse and a £20.5 billion taxpayer bailout.“Sir James Crosby has faced damning criticism in this report,” Mr Fraser said. “It’s clear he has to take a great deal of the responsibility for the catastrophe that occurred at HBOS and it’s consequences for the wider economy.

“Many livelihoods were lost as a result of his behaviour and it can’t be appropriate that he retains a knighthood given to him for services to banking.”

SNP MSP John Wilson said he would also be asking the forfeiture committee to strip Sir James of the knighthood he was awarded in 2006. He said: “Similar action should be taken to that that saw the removal of Fred Goodwin’s knighthood.

“Anybody who’s been playing monopoly with the banking system should face the consequences, particularly at a time when the most vulnerable in society are being forced to pay for the excesses at the top end of the banking system.”

A spokeswoman for the Cabinet Office said it would only comment if a definite decision had been taken to strip an individual of an award.

The Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards said the former HBOS bosses failed to admit their mistakes and should apologise for their “incompetent and reckless board strategy”.

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It concluded that the three men, who have since moved on to new positions, should never be allowed to work in the financial sector again.

A spokesman for the European investment firm Bridgepoint issued a statement yesterday following the publication of the damning report. It stated: “Following a discussion with Sir James this morning, he has decided to resign from the advisory board.”

However, he is still chairman of car credit company Money Barn. A spokeswoman for the firm declined to comment on the commission’s report.

He is also a senior independent director of Compass, one of the country’s largest catering companies. It, too, declined to comment on the report.