Strong words feature in the two reports published into the collapse of HBOS in 2008, but will action follow?

The reports, one by barrister Andrew Green looking at the decisions taken by the then regulator the Financial Services Authority, and a bigger one by its successor the Financial Conduct Authority and the Bank of England into what went wrong at HBOS have taken years to produce.

Now, invidiously, executives at the collapsed bank appear to be immune from fines as too long a time has elapsed.

Andrew Bailey, head of the Bank of Englands Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) says this was probably the case before the reports were even begun. If that is true it is a disgrace. It is entirely unsatisfactory that the only person held properly accountable was HBOS' former corporate head Peter Cummings, who received a lifetime ban from working in the sector and £500,000 fine.

There were significant losers in this. Taxpayers had to fund a bail out to the tune of £20m, but investors lost vast sums, including small investors who saw their life savings vanish overnight.

Some will argue that former executives should not be banned, but behind bars. This is excessive. There is no evidence of fraud or deliberate mismanagement. Rather this was incompetence, foolishness on a grand scale.

"HBOS was at root a simple bank that nonetheless managed to create a big problem" the report says, neatly summing up the extraordinary incompetence involved.

HBOS should not have been a difficult business to run soundly, compared with RBS, say, which was working in much more complex areas of investment banking.

As it took too far too many risks in pursuit of rapid growth, HBOS' problems were compounded by a lack of banking experience at the top. The bank's executives, including Andy Hornby and Lord Stevenson seem to have revelled in a self-perceived role as challengers to the big four, outsiders who dared to do things differently.

Yet Mr Green says the FSA gave no serious consideration to investigating any other senior staff. Former FSA chief executive Sir Hector Sants told him the authority was "stretched almost to breaking point."

The reports recommend a new investigation is carried out and this has been backed by Andrew Tyrie MP, chair of the Treasury Select Committee. This is desirable, if only to establish that senior executives can be held to account for reckless or wrong behaviour. Auditors KPMG should also be scrutinised as they appear far from blameless for their role in HBOS' collapse.

Some are already taking action. The decision by RBS yesterday to end schemes incentivising staff to sell additional products to customers is laudable and others should follow suit, especially banks supported by the taxpayer.

Meanwhile regulators should be scouring every page of this report to ensure there is no risk of such costly recklessness being allowed to go unchallenged in the future. Mr Tyrie is right to say calls for a relaxation of regulations should be resisted. The FCA must continue to regulate extremely firmly and such calls from those with very short memories should be ignored.