The David and Goliath battle with Barclays Bank has thrown up some interesting trends undermining our national life in the UK. We are grateful to the Christian Legal Centre in representing us, and for securing us a win of £21,500 compensation. It’s regrettable that we couldn’t have gone further through the courts with this matter, but a principled win would have been unlikely to be awarded more money and would certainly have considerably increased the costs of such litigation. The win is that Barclays climbed down its moral totem pole and conceded that we had been unfairly treated – evidenced by the fact that the pay out was unprecedentedly higher than we asked for. That in itself was surprising. Additionally, that we escaped a restricting “joint statement” and a non-disclosure order so confining the terms of the settlement, was also gratifying and allowed more detailed communication with the media.
Story widely reported across all media
Back in 2020, Lifesite News[i] initially reported the event – complete with the documentation relevant to the case. Forbes[ii] also raised the issue, as did Fox News[iii], but UK news was notable silent. Notably Pink News[iv] reported on the CitizenGo[v] Petition at the time.The Times[vi] broke the story which was then reported by Yahoo News, the Telegraph[vii] various Northern Irish papers The Belfast Telegraph[viii], The Newsletter,[ix],[x],[xi] and a few in the Irish Republic such as GCN[xii]: And various International groups: Epoch Times[xiii] The Third Sector[xiv], and both GB News and Talk TV[xv]. The Christian media also reported the story: The Christian Broadcasting Network[xvi], Christian Post[xvii], Church Times[xviii], Charisma News[xix] Christian Headlines[xx], Premier Christian News[xxi] and Premier Christianity[xxii], Christian Today[xxiii] and Vision Christian Media[xxiv] . Also reporting was The National Pulse,[xxv] The European Conservatives,[xxvi] Fox News Business[xxvii], Breibart News[xxviii] and This is Money[xxix]
Others’ accounts closed
Beyond these, the first surprise was the fact that the announcement of our win somehow triggered reporting of associated account closures for a range of people from diverse socio-political viewpoints. Revd Richard Fothergill (Yorkshire Building Society, YBS), Nigel Farrage (Couts) Lesley Sawers (Royal Bank of Scotland,) and Scotland’s Equalities and Human Rights Commissioner and even the UK’s Chancellor Jeremy Hunt, was refused an online account (Monzo). The resonance was obviously in the loss of accounts and not in similarity of view point.
Reasons for closure
This led to speculation as to why these accounts were being closed. On the sinister side there was the fact that both Barclays and The YBS are both card carrying members of the United Nations Environmental Financial Initiative Programme (UNEP FI), which apparently has gender targets. Perhaps more obviously, it turns out that the UK’s vestigial EU laws relating to PEPs (Politically Exposed People) and the levels that banks should go to in verifying account holders, may have been part of the issue. Apparently, there was a failure to distinguish between domestic and other PEP meaning all PEP were treated in the same way. That may have been something that related to Nigel Farage and other high profilers. The thing is, in the Case of Core Issues Trust and those running the International Federation for Therapeutic and Counselling Choice (IFTCC), there are no PEP, domestic or outside of the UK. None that is, that show up when you search the databases of listed PEP.
Role of LGBT Activism
In the case of CIT we know that the account’s closure (and that of its project IFTCC) was directly associated with the concerted efforts by LGBT activists seeking to end our charity status, and close our operations. Records of the social media posts accusing Barclays of servicing “conversion therapists” have been reported, and the Trust recorded, using detailed documentation to describe this confrontation, in the Critical Incident Reports required by the Northern Ireland Charity Commission[xxx], The UK’s Parliamentary Committee on Online Safety, which was sitting at the time and inviting examples of online abuse, and the Police Service of Northern Ireland (necessary because of threats of violence to CIT staff). What the report shows, is the work of identifiable activists and the obvious resonance of their views with Stonewall, the UK’s premier LGBT promotion charity.
The Importance of the Charity Commission
The charities commission, a UK Government entity, plays an important role in establishing the bona fide status or organisations to function in the public interest. In 2020, the same year that Barclays withdrew accounts from CIT and the IFTCC, we also saw complaints raised about our charity status with The Charity Commission of Northern Ireland.[xxxi] This leads to an important question: Given that bank accounts are essential for the existence of good governance of a charity, how is it that banks can unilaterally decide to withdraw banking? Anyone who has applied for charity status knows that the process is rigorous and demanding. Questions will hopefully now be raised about the damage account closures bring in terms of reputational and operational damage done to charities, established with great care. How can banks be allowed to take the role of political campaigners as has been the case with Barclays Bank? Hopefully this is something Andrew Griffith, appointed to investigate the activity of banks closing accounts, will look into. We can be thankful for former Business Secretary, Jacob Rees-Mogg’s intervention seeking an amendment to the Digits Market Bill to “prevent banks from blacklisting customers who hold controversial views”.[xxxii] Strength to his arm!