Nicky Morgan demands FCA publish RBS-GRG report by next week

 
Catherine Neilan
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RBS recently said it would be prepared for the full report to be published (Source: Getty)

The chair of the Treasury Select Committee has given the FCA one week to publish its report into RBS' restructuring unit GRG.

Nicky Morgan said the report must either be published in full or handed over to the committee by 16 February. In a letter to FCA boss Andrew Bailey, Morgan said: "The deadline may appear short. But the committee considers it unreasonable that four years since the review was commissioned and 18 months since the FCA received the final report, such slow progress has been made towards meeting its objective - clearly articulated by me when the committee formed last September - of placing the report in the public domain."

Earlier today Bailey admitted that he had ignored Morgan's earlier request to discover if RBS would be ready for full publication of the report, because the bank had in the past insisted it could not be published "unless it was modified, corrected, clarified and appropriate context put around it".

He said this was "unacceptable", which is why a summary was published instead.

Bailey added that he was "surprised" when RBS changed its position at a Treasury Select Committee hearing last week, saying it would be prepared for the report to be published without their intervention. Things changed "dramatically" at that point, he said.

But Bailey insisted the report could not be published immediately because individuals who may be identified had to be contacted first. "It would be very difficult to go to people and ask for their consent for publication while [another investigation] is ongoing," he said, adding this additional probe should be concluding within weeks and that the report would be published after that point.

Morgan pointed out that one MP - Labour's Clive Lewis - already has a copy of the full report. Lewis revealed this in the Commons yesterday, damning the FCA's summary as a "sanitised" version of what he had read.

Morgan confirmed this report has been handed to her office, telling Bailey. "You will be aware that the committee has powers to compel publication, so I am going to write to you in next couple of days with clear request to publish and a timescale within which to publish. Otherwise I think it will be the case that the FCA will find events overtake them in terms of publication of that report."

The pair quibbled over whether individuals could be identified with Morgan claiming it "wouldn't take a rocket scientist" to already do that.

"I don't think you're going to get that time you want, Mr Bailey," she added. "It is more than possible, particularly if the committee exercises its powers to publish the report, you may not get to that stage - do you think you should be asking those individuals now?"

SNP MP Stewart Hosie told Bailey by waiting to get approval from "some unnamed manager" the FCA would be behind "politicians, those affected, the financial press" as they discussed what had been leaked. "It makes a mockery of the FCA," he added.

Bailey responded: "I would very much prefer you not to be in a position where you have to use parliamentary privilege to do this, but I recognise your point. We will try to do this as quickly as we can."

He added that it would set a "very dangerous precedent", although Morgan countered that "the genie is out of the bottle".

Hosie added that this was "exceptional", partly because of RBS' status as partially owned by the state and the "systemic" nature of the actions carried out within GRG.

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