Noel Edmonds brands Archbishop of Canterbury ‘reincarnation of evil’ over Lloyds investment
19 September 2018 National
The TV presenter also called Justin Welby a "hypocrite", claiming he tried to book an appointment with the head of the Church of England on numerous occasions.
The former Deal or No Deal host is seeking £64m in damages after allegedly falling victim to fraud by former staff at the Reading branch of HBOS, which Lloyds rescued at the height of the financial crisis.
"Is there a bigger hypocrite than Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury and the CEO of ‘Lords Bank’?," Edmonds said during a panel at the SME Alliance annual meeting in London.
"Ever since all this started, I’ve been trying to get an appointment with him […] so I could explain some of the issues affecting not just Lloyds victims, but all victims of banking crime and my efforts have been rejected."
Last year, corrupt bankers from HBOS Reading branch were jailed for £254m loans scams which destroyed several businesses, before squandering the profits on high-end prostitutes and luxury holidays.
Edmonds, 69, claims his former business Unique Group was destroyed as a result – though he has yet to lodge legal papers.
He recalled how last week the archbishop mounted an "ecclesiastical attack on zero hours contracts, describing them as an ancient evil".
But it later emerged that a number of church staff were employed on those terms.
The church leader also attacked Amazon, despite its investment arm – the Church Commissioners – holding shares in the retail giant.
"Does he have a divine right to be an a*******?" Edmonds said during the panel at Church House in Westminster.
"And I reckon that I’m justified in calling him that and much worse because he won’t meet me or any Lloyds victims and the church is one of the biggest investors in Lloyds Banking Group.
"Justin Welby, [you] used the expression but I think you are the reincarnation of an ancient evil," Edmonds continued.
According to its 2017 annual report, Lloyds Banking Group is listed as one of the Church Commissioner’s 20 most valuable share holdings.
In a recent update on progress on two HBOS investigations, Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) boss Andrew Bailey said new, potentially relevant documents are being obtained.
He said the second HBOS inquiry relates to "extent and nature of the knowledge" of misconduct within the Reading branch.
"We are nearing the end of our investigative review and considering what action is appropriate," Mr Bailey said in a speech earlier this month.