An Anglican vicar has slammed Yorkshire Building Society for closing his account after he accused them of promoting gender ideology.
Rev Richard Fothergill, a longstanding customer with the building society, wrote to them in June to complain about their public messaging during Pride month.
The 62-year-old says within four days, he received a reply telling him his internet savings account would be closed, The Times reports.
Rev Fothergill, of Windermere, Cumbria, has since accused the banking giant of ‘bullying’ and said: ‘I wasn’t even aware that our relationship had a problem. They are a financial house – they are not there to do social engineering. I think they should concentrate their efforts on managing money, instead of promoting LGBT ideology.
‘I know cancel culture exists and this is my first first-hand experience of it. I wouldn’t want this bullying to happen to anyone else.’
Rev Richard Fothergill, a longstanding customer with Yorkshire Building Society, wrote to them in June to complain about their public messaging during Pride month
Rev Fothergill says within four days, he received a reply telling him that his internet savings account would be closed
The retired vicar insists his observations were a polite rebuttal of transgenderism, in response to material on YBS’s website.
But the building society wrote it has a ‘zero tolerance approach to discrimination’ and their relationship with the customer had ‘irrevocably broken down’.
Rev Fothergill, who no longer serves a parish but founded the Filling Station evangelical network online, wrote his letter on June 18 in response to a monthly email from YBS asking for feedback.
He says he penned a couple of paragraphs objecting to trans ideology — the concept of a gender identity separate from the body — being relayed to children.
Insisting he had been ‘polite all the way through’ he rounded on the bank and said they should be ‘worrying about financial issues’ – not LBGT ones.
The retired vicar insists his observations were a polite rebuttal of transgenderism, in response to material on YBS’s website (Pictured: Trans rights activists at New York Pride)
YBS, which looks after savings over three million customers, disputed Rev Fothergill’s description of what occurred.
A spokesman said: ‘We never close savings accounts based on different opinions regarding beliefs or feedback provided by our customers.
‘We only ever make the difficult decision to close a savings account if a customer is rude, abusive, violent or discriminates in any way, based on the specific facts, comments and behaviour in each case.’
Nigel Farage told MailOnline yesterday that three members of his family have recently had accounts closed by UK banks – as lenders were accused of dumping customers who say things they don’t like on gender and LGBT issues or Brexit.
Mr Farage has not named the bank who plan to shut his own personal and business accounts this summer, but is understood to be Coutts, the famous 327-year-old private bank whose clients include members of the Royal Family.
It is owned by high street giant NatWest, which is still 38.6% owned by the British taxpayer after it was bailed out following the 2008 financial crisis. MailOnline has asked Coutts and Nat West to comment.
Comparing Britain to ‘communist China’, Mr Farage told MailOnline: ‘Some of these ridiculous rules and closures have been extended to my immediate family. I am enraged and also have a feeling of guilt that members of my family are being punished for my campaign to leave the European Union‘.
Warning that anyone in Britain could be next he added: ‘The banking industry in the UK has become politicised. We are going down a road where anybody in Britain could say something on Facebook or Twitter that a bank doesn’t like and lose their accounts’.
First Direct has also been accused of closing the account of the founder Wings over Scotland pro-Scottish independence blog, run by journalist Stuart Campbell. Mr Campbell has suggested that his accounts were closed because of his views on gender and sex, including declaring: ‘Women don’t have penises’.
Nigel Farage claimed today that his bank accounts are being shut due to Brexit – and says his family has also suffered in the same way
First Direct has also been accused of closing the account of the founder Wings over Scotland pro-Scottish independence blog, run by journalist Stuart Campbell. Mr Campbell has suggested that his accounts were closed because of his views on gender and sex, including declaring: ‘Women don’t have penises’
Toby Young and Laurence Fox’s Reclaim Party have also suffered
He said: ‘I’ve banked with them for 25+ years, but last week I was in Sainsbury’s buying some milk during a Bear Patrol and my card got declined. I rang them up, and after over an hour on hold, they told me all my accounts had been cancelled. Was it political? Was it to do with Wings’ very public stance on gender, after the fiasco of PayPal pulling their services from the Free Speech Union and other similar incidents from woke financial service providers? Who knows? But it stinks’.
A First Direct spokesman said they would not comment on individual cases. But said: ‘In general terms, decisions to end a customer relationship are not taken lightly, but are absolutely not based on individual beliefs’.
Journalist Toby Young, of the Free Speech Union, told Mr Farage on GB News last night that he was contacted by a Yorkshire Building Society customer who claimed he asked why their branches were festooned with Pride flags. The bank allegedly replied that his account would be closed down. MailOnline has Yorkshire Building Society to comment.
PayPal has also pulled services from groups and people in recent years, including Mr Young himself, before a U-turn on his account three days later. The TRIGGERnometry free speech YouTube show and podcast claims Tide has shut down its business account.
In 2021 Laurence Fox’s political party ‘Reclaim’ was also denied a bank account. Mr Fox said recently: ‘The Reclaim Party cannot get a uk bank account. Despite three years of box ticking and immaculate compliance. In fact, entire new compliance departments are created just to stop us existing.
Nigel Farage said the banking group he has been with for more than 40 years warned him around two months ago that his accounts will be closed. He claims that it has given him no reason, other than that it was a ‘commercial decision’ – but has so far declined to name them.
He has accused ‘the Establishment’ of trying to ‘force me out of the UK’. Seven other banks have also refused to open an account for him. And today he told MailOnline that three members of his family have suffered the same fate.
He said he thought there were three possible reasons for the fiasco. The first was that he may have been flagged as a ‘politically exposed person’ – a label designed for those who could be vulnerable to bribery or corruption.
The second possibility was that ‘big corporate structures’ were taking revenge on him for Brexit.
And the third was that it was as a result of claims made by Labour MP Chris Bryant that Mr Farage received large donations from the Russian government. He insisted he ‘didn’t receive a penny’.
He said it was ‘nonsense’ and ‘wholly wrong’ to suggest he received hundreds of thousands of pounds from the Russian state.
He has said he received ‘two small appearance fees’ with both ‘well under £5,000’ from Russia Today. He said this related to some work in 2015 and 2016 and insists he didn’t do any work with them in 2018 – the year Bryant claimed he received almost £550,000. He claims Mr Bryant ‘abused’ Parliamentary Privilege to avoid being sued for libel. The Labour MP has not repeated the same claims in public.
Mr Farage has said that last night he received a ‘snivelling’ phone call from the bank saying they had looked again could get him a personal account – but not a business account, which he also uses to pay his three members of staff.
The politician turned broadcaster said that he is having to consider banking abroad – on mainland Europe but outside the EU – and admits Switzerland is an option. He has also instructed lawyers and is considering suing them at the High Court.
He is also campaigning for the law to change to match other countries where having a bank account is a legal right. He said 1.3million in the UK don’t have one, some through choice, others because of the banks themselves.
He said the Post Office used to serve that function but this was changed when it was privatised by Coalition chancellor Vince Cable.
The furore began yesterday when the former Brexit Party and Ukip leader said he was a victim of ‘political persecution’ and suggested he was trying to be forced out of the UK.
Mr Farage claimed the banking group told him earlier this year his personal and business accounts would be closed over the summer. He did not name the group, but told his 1.7million followers that he had been banking with them since 1980.
Painting himself as the victim of a ‘serious political persecution’, Mr Farage claimed that the extraordinary measure was effectively tantamount to making him a ‘non-person’, adding: ‘I won’t really be able to exist or function in a modern 21st century Britain.
‘I’m beginning to think that perhaps life in the United Kingdom is now becoming completely unliveable because of the levels of prejudice against me.’
Mr Farage speculated that the ‘establishment’ was targeting him due to his role in campaigning for Brexit during the 2016 referendum on British membership of the EU. He also suggested that his reputation had been smeared by Labour MP Sir Chris Bryant, who last year used parliamentary privilege to claim that Mr Farage was paid more than £500,000 by the Russian state through his appearances Russia Today in 2018. He vehemently denied this, saying: ‘I didn’t receive a penny from any source with even any link to Russia.’
Sources close to the politician at the time claimed the £548,573 figure quotes in the House of Commons, using parliamentary privilege, was his firm’s total income for the year, not an amount he received from Russia Today, on which he made a series of appearances that year.
Last year, British film-maker Graham Phillips was added to the UK Government’s sanctions list, accused of being a conduit for pro-Russian propaganda.
The video blogger was filming pro-Kremlin material from Russian-occupied areas of Ukraine shortly after the conflict first broke out.
As a result of being on the sanctions list, his assets were frozen.
Mr Farage claimed the banking group, who he did not name but said he’d been with since 1980, told him earlier this year his personal and business accounts would be closed over the summer
In his bombshell video, Farage speculated a range of possible reasons for the alleged closure, including suggesting that he had been deemed a politically exposed person (PEP).
A PEP is an individual that holds a prominent public position or function, and may be deemed more susceptible to bribery, corruption or other money laundering offences due to their role.
In his post on social media this morning, the GB News host wrote: ‘I have been given no explanation or recourse as to why this is happening to me.
‘This is serious political persecution at the very highest level of our system. If they can do it to me, they can do it to you too.’
Speaking of the importance of having a bank account, he added: ‘You effectively become a non-person, you don’t actually exist.
‘It’s like the worse regimes of the mid-20th century, be they in Russia or Germany, you literally become a non-person.
‘I won’t really be able to exist or function in a modern 21st century Britain.’
It comes after Mr Farage yesterday blasted the Television and Radio Industries Club Awards for ‘deleting’ a tweet that announced him as winner of News Presenter of the Year.
He accused the organisation of taking down the congratulatory message because he ‘committed the cardinal sin of questioning the Barb figures.’
The ‘Barb’ figures show the TV ratings of programmes and are compiled daily by the Broadcasters’ Audience Research Board.
Mr Farage criticised the way viewing numbers are collated during his acceptance speech and on his show last night, accusing the industry of ‘marking their own homework’ and being ‘out of touch.’
At this week’s ceremony, the presenter called on hecklers to ‘keep the abuse coming’ as he was booed after beating established veteran journalists Eamonn Holmes and Susanna Reid to the gong.
Sir Chris declined to comment when approached by MailOnline.
Nigel Farage’s full statement on the closure of his bank accounts
I’ve been living with something for the last couple of months that may well fundamentally affect my future career going on from here and even if I can stay living in this country.
I have been with the same banking group since 1980. I’ve had my personal accounts with them since that date and my business accounts right through the 1990s when I worked in the City of London and in recent years too. I’m with one of the subsidiaries of this big banking group, one with a very prestigious name, but I won’t name them just yet.
I got a phone call a couple of months ago to say ‘we are closing your accounts’. I asked why, no reason was given. I was told a letter would come and explain everything. The letter came through and simply said we are closing your accounts we want to finish it all by a date, around about now. I didn’t know what to make of it. I complained, I emailed the chairman who phoned me to say it was a commercial decision which I have to say I don’t believe for a single moment.
I’ve been to seven banks, asked them all if I can have a personal and business account, and the answer has been no in every single case. There is nothing irregular or unusual about what I do. The payments that go in and out every month are pretty much the same. I maintain in my business account a pretty big positive cash balance which I guess with interest rates where they are is pretty good for the bank too.
So why is this happening to me? One explanation is that a few years ago the European Union came up with the definition of Politically Exposed Person (PEP) – this can range from anybody from a Prime Minister down to a local councillor. I think the reason for it was ‘were people in politics open to bribery from foreign governments in Ukraine or China or wherever else it may be, pumping money into the accounts of corrupt politicians’. I understand and get that. But it’s all about interpretation, isn’t it?
What the banks argue is that to maintain an account for a PEP gives them increased costs of compliance. Now, I have spoken to the city minister in this country and there’s some hope that this EU definition which came into British law may be moderated in some way, we’ll have to see. But any bank or organisation can choose to interpret a PEP and whether they want the account in any way they choose. To my knowledge I don’t think anybody has been treated like me in the world of politics.
But the banks themselves are part of the big, corporate structures in this country, the organisations who did not want Brexit to happen. In my case, probably the corporate world will never, ever forgive me. They know if I hadn’t done what I did, without the help of thousands of people in our people’s army, there never would have been a referendum, let alone the victory. I’m the one that is to carry the blame. That’s the second possible reason why I can’t get a bank account: prejudice that comes from our institutions.
But I think there’s a third reason. A few months ago, in the House of Commons, Sir Chris Bryant, chairman of the Priviliges Committee said using parliamentary privilege that I have received large sums of money directly from the Russian government and named the calendar year he said it happened. The truth is I didn’t receive a penny from any source with even any link to Russia. And yet because he said it, it stands. I wrote to the Speaker, I demanded an apology, but nothing has been forthcoming from Sir Chris Bryant. I wonder if that is what’s given me part of the problem.
I have employed a top firm of London lawyers, I’m going through a series of subject access requests to find out what is held on me by the international agencies and the bank that wants to close me down.
Think about it, without a bank account, you effectively become a non-person, you don’t actually exist. It’s like the worse regimes of the mid-20th century, be they in Russia or Germany, you literally become a non-person. You don’t any more have a right to be entitled to a bank account.
There is a possibility, through a fintech company that I could find some means of receiving and paying money, which could be a little bit of a lifeline. But it’s not a bank account because I won’t be able to earn any interest on positive cash balances. I won’t be able to borrow money if I need to at any point, or take out a mortgage should I so desire, that will be completely denied to me. I won’t be able to have a debit card linked directly to my account. I won’t really be able to exist or function in a modern 21st century Britain.
I’m beginning to think that perhaps life in the United Kingdom is now becoming completely unliveable because of the levels of prejudice against me.