THE head of the banking group that includes Coutts has apologised to Nigel Farage after his account was closed because of his political views.

Dame Alison Rose, the chief executive of NatWest Group, said “deeply inappropriate comments” were made about the former Ukip and Brexit party leader in official papers.

She said she was now “commissioning a full review of the Coutts processes” on bank account closures in light of the row.

It followed the Treasury announcing UK banks will be subject to stricter rules over closing customers’ accounts under changes designed to protect freedom of expression.

Banks, which were previously under no obligation to explain closure decisions, will now have to explain why they are shutting down someone’s account.

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The Government has also extended the notice period for a forced account closure from 30 days to 90 to give customers more time to challenge it or find a replacement bank.

Andrew Griffith, the economic secretary to the Treasury, said: “Freedom of speech is a cornerstone of our democracy, and it must be respected by all institutions.

“Banks occupy a privileged place in society, and it is right that we fairly balance the rights of banks to act in their commercial interest, with the right for everyone to express themselves freely.

“These changes will boost the rights of customers – providing real transparency, time to appeal and making it a much fairer playing field.”

NatWest and Coutts have been under growing pressure in recent days, after Mr Farage used data access law to obtain a dossier about his account closure earlier this year.

Coutts, the private bank used by the Royal family, cited Mr Farage’s ties to US President Donald Trump and tennis player Novak Djokovic, who is opposed to Covid vaccinations, 

The bank also flagged concerns about Mr Farage being “xenophobic and racist” before concluding his views “did not align” with its values in a meeting last November.

It led to condemnations in parliament by former Tory ministers, with Coutts accused of lying by wrongly briefing the BBC that Mr Farage finances were to blame for the closure.

Rishi Sunak said it would be wrong to deny someone a bank account because of their views.

NatWest is 39 per cent owned by the taxpayer after a government bailout in 2018.

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Dame Alison said the “deeply inappropriate comments made in the now-published papers prepared for the Wealth Reputation Risk Committee, do not reflect the view of the bank”.

She said: “No individual should have to read such comments and I apologise to Mr Farage for this. I have written to him today to make that apology and reiterate our offer of alternative banking arrangements.

“In addition, I am commissioning a full review of the Coutts’ processes for how these decisions are made and communicated to ensure we provide a better, more transparent experience for all our customers in the future.”

She added: “Both freedom of expression and access to banking are fundamental to our society. It is not our policy to exit a customer on the basis of legally held political and personal views.

“Decisions to close an account are not taken lightly and involve a number of factors including commercial viability, reputational considerations and legal and regulatory requirements.

“I fully understand the public concern that the processes for bank account closure are not sufficiently transparent. Customers have a right to expect their bank to make consistent decisions against publicly available criteria.

“Those decisions should also be communicated clearly and openly with them, within the constraints imposed by the law.

“To achieve this, wider change is required. But the experience of clients highlighted in recent days has shown we need to act now to put our processes under scrutiny.”

Mr Farage praised the Government response, as he said MPs were “beginning to realise that this system is coming for them as well”.

He told the PA news agency there was “a real sense of anger” among the public, who bailed out banks during the 2008 financial crisis, that they “can now treat us with contempt”.