12:03, September 10 49 0 theguardian.com

2017-09-10 12:03:03
Noel Edmonds says litigation funder will bankroll his £300m battle with Lloyds

Television presenter Noel Edmonds says deep-pocketed investors are willing to bankroll his £300m compensation battle with Lloyds Banking Group.

Edmonds’ legal claim stems from the fraud scandal at the bank’s HBOS Reading arm which affected more than 60 small business owners. In July, the former DJ and children’s TV presenter upped his compensation demand from £73m to £300m.

“I have a major litigation funder … who has seen my case so [Lloyds] can’t beat me on deep pockets,” Edmonds told the Mail on Sunday.

Litigation funders provide financial backing to claimants they believe have a good chance of being awarded damages in a legal dispute. In return, the investors receive a fee or a percentage of any eventual settlement.

The sum sought by Edmonds is three times the £100m pot Lloyds has set aside for customers affected by the fraud. The £300m is to cover losses relating to the collapse of the celebrity’s entertainment firm Unique Group a decade ago, as well as the “distress” and “public humiliation” he has suffered.

Lloyds had denied there was any wrongdoing at its Reading branch until two of its former employees were convicted of fraud in February. A group of six bankers nicknamed “Britain’s Wolves of Wall Street” were jailed for a combined 47 years and six months for their part in the £245m loans scam which destroyed several businesses.

The jury heard the corrupt financiers spent the proceeds of their fraudulent activities on superyachts and sex parties. The scam took place between 2003 and 2007, predating Lloyds’ rescue of HBOS during the financial crisis.

Among those convicted was former HBOS banker Mark Dobson, who was sentenced to four and a half years in prison. Edmonds claims Dobson effectively became a shadow director of Unique. He also claims HBOS prevented him from selling shares in another business, UBC, so that he could repay a loan.

Edmonds has led a high-profile campaign against Lloyds, admitting that he came close to taking his own life following the fraud. Two-thirds of the compensation figure is based on his estimate of what Unique could have been worth today, with the remainder to cover the loss of speaking engagements, the fire-sale of assets – including his vintage car collection and image rights – as well as the emotional toll of the episode.

He told the Mail on Sunday that “HBOS had robbed me of my marriage, my family, my businesses, my longstanding friend and business partner, my income, my investments, my self-respect, my reputation, my privacy, my physical and mental health. It cost me my security, my image rights, my collection of classic cars – and very nearly my life.”

After the fraud trial Lloyds set up a compensation scheme for the 64 victims but, according to bank’s July update, only five have accepted the package on the table.

In a statement Lloyds said: “Since the end of the HBOS Reading fraud trial, we have been working hard to provide fair, swift and appropriate compensation. But, as we have met and spoken with victims, many have asked us for more time to provide input.”

It added: “We are committed to doing everything we can to support those affected … and we are continuing to make good progress in getting offers to the victims of the fraud.”