Television presenter Noel Edmonds has complained to the advertising watchdog about Lloyds Bank’s adverts, opening a new front in his battle with the lender.
Edmonds this month launched a £60m legal action against Lloyds, which bought the HBOS bank he alleges was involved in the collapse of his business, Unique Group, before the financial crisis.
The complaint, made yesterday to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) and seen by City A.M., accuses Lloyds of “producing propaganda [...] in an attempt to present a caring and supportive image when they continue to ruin the lives of millions”.
He asks the ASA to “kindly suspend all Lloyds advertising forthwith”, while comparing its conduct to illegal organisations such as the Mafia and Isis. The ASA does not have the power to ban advertisements directly, although few advertisers in practice go against the body’s rulings.
The banker for the Deal or No Deal presenter’s company was Mark Dobson, a former HBOS employee in the Reading branch who was jailed in January last year for a massive fraud against the bank’s clients.
Thames Valley Police has now launched a further criminal investigation into the dealings of HBOS, and Dobson in particular with Unique Group, following on from Operation Hornet, the case which resulted in Dobson, another Lloyds employee, and external consultants all being imprisoned.
A spokesperson for the police said they are “in the early stages of the investigation” of the financial transactions with a Unique subsidiary between 2003 and 2006, after receiving allegations from Edmonds in September. They “will be providing updates on its progress to the victim”.
A spokesperson for Lloyds Banking Group said it "welcomes this new enquiry". The spokesperson added: "Lloyds Banking Group will fully assist Thames Valley Police in its investigation."
Edmonds last month gained as much as £1.5m in funding for his legal action from Therium Capital Management, the litigation funder.
He had previously said he would seek damages as high as £300m, although that has since reduced.
Lloyds Bank declined to comment on the Advertising Standards Authority complaint.