- Cambridge couple vindicated in massive fraud case
- By Jenny Chapman
- Contributed by: Soldier ( 4 articles in 2017 )
Nikki and Paul Turner, the Cambridge couple who uncovered the £1 billion fraud at HBOS Reading, which the Bank has repeatedly denied ever happened, have today written to Lord Blackwell, chairman of HBOS owners Lloyds Banking Group, calling on the bank to compensate them for 13 years of hell.
The letter follows today’s conviction of six people for fraud and conspiracy at Southwark Crown Court. In the trial, which started last September, it was revealed that scores of businesses were subject to a systematic fraud perpetrated at HBOS Reading involving a consultancy firm, Quayside Corporate Services, which had close connections to Lynden Scourfield, the bank’s head of high risk for the South of England, and other bank executives. Total losses from the fraud are estimated to exceed £1 billion.
The Turners, whose nightmare started when they took a business loan for £160,000 from HBOS in 2003, brought the fraud to the attention of the HBOS Board in September 2007 and, after the merger, Lloyds, as well as to regulators, politicians and the police. The banking group not only repeatedly denied their allegations, it also attempted to repossess the Turners’ home through 22 eviction hearings. However, it has emerged in the criminal trial the Bank conducted a number of internal investigations, starting in 2006, into HBOS Reading but has never revealed the conclusions.
Nikki Turner commented: “It’s great relief that we have finally been vindicated after ten years of denial by the bank because it’s been a nightmare journey. What happened at HBOS Reading was fraud on an industrial scale and its perpetrators caused immense distress to us and many other honest business people. Today we have again written to the chairman of Lloyds asking him to do the right thing and compensate us and other victims for the loss of income, pain and anguish we have all suffered for the last 13 years since the fraud was first perpetrated.”
Lynden Scourfield, 54, pleaded guilty to six counts of bribery, fraud and conspiracy. Today five other defendants, Mark Dobson, 55, from Bishop's Stortford, Hertfordshire, David Mills, 59, Michael Bancroft, 73, Alison Mills, 51, and John Cartwright, 71, from Hyde, Cheshire, were convicted at Southwark Crown Court on counts including bribery, fraud and money laundering.
Nikki and Paul Turner became customers of HBOS Reading in 2003 after the bank approved a £160,000 loan and moved their account from Cambridge to Reading. In 2004 they were introduced to Lynden Scourfield who introduced Quayside Corporate Services into their music publishing business. The Turners first alerted HBOS to the fraud in 2007 and have also alerted regulators, politicians and the police. An investigation by Thames Valley Police was started in 2010.
HBOS began the first of a number of internal investigations into HBOS Reading and Quayside Corporate Services in 2006, reporting in early 2007. Lynden Scourfield left the bank in 2007.
HBOS was taken over by Lloyds TSB in a transaction which completed in January 2009. The new entity was called Lloyds Banking Group.
Between January 2007 and August 2010 the Turners were put through 22 hearings to evict them from their home in Cambridge. However, the Courts accepted that there was potential misconduct by the bank and refused to allow it to repossess the property. In a letter to the Turners in May 2010 the then chairman of Lloyds, Sir Win Bischoff, defended the actions of the bank.
In 2011, Thames Valley Police asked Nikki and Paul Turner to make an estimate of their financial loss as a result of the fraud at HBOS Reading. Using information including their original business plan, the losses were then estimated to be just over £11m.
As part of their investigation, the Turners identified other victims of the fraud including those cited in the indictment and provided victim impact statements – Gill Blackburn, Joanne Dove, Simon Robinson, the Morgan Family as well as Justin and Julia Riggs, Clive Collins, Julie Probett, Andrew Reade.
As a consequence of their experience, Nikki is a founder and director of SME Alliance, an organisation which supports small businesses and lobbies in Parliament and Paul has assisted many victims to remain in their homes and, in one instance, rebuild their Oxfordshire farming enterprise out of administration.