The Royal Bank of Scotland’s new chairman broke with the official line
to admit that “several enormous mistakes” were made on the eve of the
banking crisis, according to cables released last night by
whistle-blower website WikiLeaks.
Sir Philip Hampton
reportedly told US politicians that RBS directors had failed in their
“fiduciary responsibilities”, and had not carried out proper due
diligence before the ill-fated purchase of Dutch bank ABN Amro.
Earlier this month,
the Financial Services Authority found no “failure of governance on the
part of the board at RBS”, which was one of the highest-profile
casualties of the financial crisis.
However, in the
diplomatic cable’s account of a meeting between Sir Philip and three US
officials, he appears to acknowledge several serious failings in the
“Top among them was
its heavy exposure in the US subprime market and the bank’s purchase of
ABN Amro, which occurred at the height of the market and without RBS
doing proper due diligence prior to the purchase,” the leaked document
states. “The board of directors never questioned this purchase, which
Hampton termed a failure of their fiduciary responsibilities.”
Sir Philip, who was
appointed chairman of RBS in 2009, was said to have made the comments on
September 11, 2009, nine months into his new role, during a meeting with
Democrats Paul Kanjorski and Luis Gutierrez and Republican Scott
Also uncovered on the
WikiLeaks site was the claim that British police helped “develop
Madeleine McCann’s parents while they
were being investigated by the Portuguese as suspects in the case of
their daughter’s disappearance.
The US ambassador to
Portugal was apparently told by his British counterpart, Alexander
Wykeham Ellis, that UK officers had co-operated closely with their
The US official, Al
Hoffman, reported: “Without delving into the details of the case, Ellis
admitted that the British police had developed the current evidence
against the McCann parents, and he stressed that authorities from both
countries were working co-operatively.”
Many people at the
time were under the impression that Portuguese police were behind the
drive to name the McCanns as arguidos, or formal suspects in the
country’s legal system.
The couple have said
that there was “absolutely no evidence to implicate them in Madeleine’s
A spokesman for
Gerry McCann said last night: “To this day, they continue to
work tirelessly on the search for their daughter, co-operating when
appropriate with both the Portuguese and British authorities.” Their
arguido status was lifted in July 2008, and Portuguese authorities ended
investigation into the couple.
claimed to reveal US concerns that the UK was struggling to cope with
homegrown extremism, with Americans warning that Britain had made
“little progress” in engaging with the UK’s Muslim community in the year
after the July 7 bomb attacks in London.