Cable to look at Lloyds case

BUSINESS secretary Vince Cable will take legal advice on publishing a dossier that could be potentially embarrassing for his predecessor Peter Mandelson and shine a light on Lloyds TSB’s merger with HBOS, he told City A.M. yesterday.

It is the first sign that Cable could push for the release of a document that he called on Mandelson to publish before the General Election.

The document relates to a case brought against Lloyds’ tie-up with HBOS by a group of Scottish businessmen, who said it was un-competitive.

A “secret dossier” was allegedly compiled to support the government’s argument, with all parties on the case then sworn to silence.

Lloyds Action Now, a group of Lloyds shareholders currently suing the government and the bank’s former directors, say that the document would reveal that Mandelson did not adequately inform the courts that HBOS had drawn on £25.4bn of emerging funding.

They claim the revelation could have had a crucial impact on the courts’ decision to allow the merger and recently filed a freedom of information calling on Cable to publish it.

Cable told City A.M. that he is not sure what the current legal position is but said: “Now that you’ve pointed it out to me, I will certainly make inquiries as to what the position is.”

He added he intends to prioritise “the broad principle that we must have as much transparency as possible over a merger that was very damaging for shareholders”.

Lloyds declined to comment.