DAME Alison Rose fell on her sword after making the mistake of discussing Nigel Farage’s banking affairs with a senior BBC journalist.

But it is certainly possible to feel sympathy for the erstwhile chief executive of NatWest Group, owner of Royal Bank of Scotland, who can look back on some significant achievements during her tenure.

Ms Rose, who joined NatWest as a graduate in 1992 and until the early hours of Wednesday had spent her entire career with the bank, made clear that her own conduct was found wanting during the Farage affair.

As Ms Rose conceded on Tuesday evening, she made a “serious error of judgement in discussing Mr Farage’s relationship with the bank”, even though she maintained that she did not disclose any personal financial information about the former UKIP leader during her discussions with the BBC’s Simon Jack.

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In the same statement, which signalled Ms Rose retained the full confidence of the board before that changed as the evening progressed, chairman Sir Howard Davies declared she had made a “regrettable error of judgment” in becoming the source of a story about Coutts, the institution’s private bank, closing Mr Farage's account for commercial reasons.

It was subsequently revealed, following a request by Mr Farage for a subject access review, that bankers at Coutts, which provides banking services for high-net-worth individuals, had expressed concerns over his political views.

This aspect of the episode has stirred up a national debate over whether people should be “de-banked” on the basis of the opinions they hold, with politicians on the right wing, in particular, wading in to criticise Coutts and ultimately calling for Ms Rose to go. Indeed, it was reported that the UK banking sector may face political and regulatory fallout which will "ripple out for months to come" after the controversy.

There is a legitimate debate to be had over the relationship between an individual’s right to free speech and access to services such as bank accounts.

But there is no doubt the Farage episode also became a convenient proxy for the Tories to burnish its credentials with voters whose politics lean to the right and whose support they will require if they are to have any hope of being re-elected.

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Ultimately, they got their wish. NatWest capitulated under the pressure and served up Ms Rose’s resignation in a statement issued at around 1.30am on Wednesday, following what is reported to have been an emergency board meeting late on Tuesday night. The bank was outgunned and outplayed by Farage, who milked the controversy throughout to his own advantage.

However, one has to wonder whether things would have been different had the politics of Farage been different. Would there have been such an outrage had his politics leaned to the left and therefore been unable to whip up the support of the powerful right-wing media?

Moreover, and perhaps more crucially, would Ms Rose have lost her job had the bank still not been 39%-owned by UK taxpayers, a legacy of its £45.5bn bailout by the state during the financial crisis of 2008 and 2009?

It is very easy to see that things may have turned out differently for Ms Rose had these two factors not been against her.

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Right now, the banker will be counting the cost of her damaging brush with politics, having paid a heavy price for getting involved in a story she should not have touched with a barge pole. But in time she may be able to take pride in her achievements with the bank.

Sure, not every decision has been well received. Many people in Scotland were unhappy when the bank changed its name to NatWest from Royal Bank of Scotland at parent group level in 2020. That the bank's headquarters also effectively moved from Edinburgh to London, with Ms Rose's contract stating she would be based in the UK capital, did not go down well with some Scots either.

And there was also the embarrassment of a heavy fine handed to the lender for three breaches of money laundering regulations in 2021.

But under the leadership of Ms Rose, who succeeded Ross McEwan in December 2018, the bank has routinely made big profits following years of heavy losses. It has paid out billions of pounds in dividends to shareholders and returned to majority private ownership after the UK Government’s stake dipped below the symbolic 50% mark in March last year. The stake was subsequently whittled down to 38.6% in May following further share sales by the Treasury.

Ms Rose, who received a damehood for her contribution to financial services in the King’s New Year Honours, has been praised for efforts to promote female entrepreneurship and inclusivity as part of her drive to make NatWest a “purpose-led organisation”.

It will no doubt be a matter of huge frustration to her that she has been denied the opportunity to complete the journey.