NatWest chief expected to quit after emergency board meeting

The board of NatWest Group was holding emergency talks on Tuesday night as the nearly four-year tenure of chief executive Dame Alison Rose looked set to end in ignominy over her admission that she had discussed Nigel Farage’s bank details with a BBC journalist.

Sky News has learnt that directors of the taxpayer-backed lender were locked in discussions, with sources saying Dame Alison was almost certain to step down in the wake of briefings by Downing Street that she had lost the confidence of the prime minister and chancellor.

One insider cautioned, however, that a final decision had yet to be taken, while NatWest, which is 39%-owned by British taxpayers, declined to comment.

Dame Alison’s departure would cause huge embarrassment to the NatWest board, which just hours earlier had issued a statement saying it “retains full confidence in Ms Rose as CEO of the bank”.

If confirmed, it would also bring an abrupt and premature end to the executive career of the only woman to run one of Britain’s biggest high street banks.

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A statement could come within hours, but is likely before the stock market opens on Wednesday morning, a source said.

Dame Alison has been embroiled for the last ten days in an intensifying row over the disclosure of inaccurate information to the BBC about the decision to close Mr Farage’s accounts with Coutts, a NatWest subsidiary.

The former UKIP leader extracted apologies from both the NatWest CEO and the BBC over the affair, with Dame Alison acknowledging on Tuesday that she had been responsible for the erroneous briefing that his accounts had been terminated purely for commercial reasons.

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Coutts apologies to Nigel Farage

The Times reported on Tuesday night that Downing Street and the Treasury were keen for Dame Alison to step down.

NatWest said it would “commission an independent review into the account closure arrangement at Coutts, and the lessons to be learnt from this”, with the City watchdog demanding an inquiry into the breaches of client confidentiality.

Dame Alison said earlier on Tuesday: “I would like to say sorry to the Board and my colleagues.

“I started my career working for National Westminster Bank.

“It is an institution I care about enormously and have always been proud to be a part of. It has been the privilege of my career to lead the bank and I am grateful to the Board for entrusting me with this role.

“It is therefore all the more regrettable that my actions have compounded an already difficult issue for the Group.”

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