16:42, June 16 255 0 theguardian.com

2020-06-16 16:42:04
UK Finance boss resigns as Amanda Staveley high court case continues

The boss of the banking lobby group UK Finance has resigned just weeks before his alleged sexist remarks about the financier Amanda Staveley are due to be revealed in the high court.

Stephen Jones, a senior Barclays executive during the financial crisis who became the first chief executive of UK Finance in 2017, said he had also apologised to Staveley and the body’s staff about the comments, which were made as the bank scrambled to save itself from nationalisation in 2008.

Last week Staveley began a £1.5bn high court claim against Barclays after her client, Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan of Abu Dhabi, invested £3.25bn as part of an emergency fundraising that saved Barclays from a state bailout 12 years ago.

She claims that the UK bank secretly offered superior terms to Barclays’ largest investor, the state of Qatar. Barclays has described the case as “opportunistic and speculative”.

The exact nature of what Jones said has yet to emerge during the trial, but court documents submitted by Staveley’s company, PCP Capital Partners, state: “A significant theme of Barclays’ evidence in these proceedings is concerned with seeking to criticise the professional skill and competence of Ms Staveley. This is regrettably consistent with some attitudes – reflected in some deeply unpleasant personal comments about her – professed by some of Barclays’ most senior staff at the time.”

Jones is expected to appear as a witness next month. Evidence relating to his comments is expected to be released when he enters the witness box.

On Tuesday Jones said: “I have apologised to Ms Staveley and to my colleagues for the comments made in 2008 and feel at this time it is right I step down from my role at UK Finance.

“I am very proud of what we have achieved since the formation of UK Finance in 2017. Our current work with the banking and finance industry, government, business and consumer groups and regulators to coordinate the provision of financial support during the Covid-19 crisis shows UK Finance at its best.”

On its website, UK Finance says that its support for the Treasury’s women in finance charter is “emblematic of the support within financial services for the advancement of women in senior management positions and, more generally, policies intended to deliver a more equal, inclusive and diverse workplace”.

The resignation came after Staveley spent another day giving evidence, in which she said she had been reduced to tears by the pressure of working on the Barclays rescue deal.

Speaking about one phone call involving Barclays’ then chief executive John Varley, she said: “They were putting pressure on me and I was incredibly concerned. I remember the call very well because I called my father afterwards in tears. So I can remember it vividly to this day because the pressure was incredible. I was very worried that we had to get there and obviously they had a right to put pressure on me but we could only go as fast as we could go.”