Noel Edmonds has launched an astonishing attack on the Archbishop of Canterbury, branding him a “reincarnation of evil” for failing to meet with HBOS fraud victims and investing in Lloyds Banking Group.
The Deal or No Deal TV star – who is seeking £64 million in damages from HBOS owner Lloyds – called Justin Welby a “hypocrite”, claiming he tried numerous times to book an appointment with the head of the Church of England.
“Is there a bigger hypocrite than Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury and the CEO of ‘Lords Bank’?,” he 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, representatives of mine have been trying to get an appointment with Lambeth Palace, 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.”
Corrupt bankers from the HBOS Reading branch were jailed last year for a £245 million loans scam which destroyed several businesses, before they squandered the profits on high-end prostitutes and luxury holidays.
Mr Edmonds is planning to pursue Lloyds for millions in damages for losses allegedly suffered when his former business Unique Group was destroyed as a result, although he has yet to lodge legal papers.
He noted that the archbishop last week mounted an “ecclesiastical attack on zero hours contracts, describing them as an ancient evil” before it 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 arsehole?” Mr Edmonds said during the panel, which was held at Church House in Westminster where the Church Commissioners’ officers are based.
“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,” he said, prompting applause at the meeting.
“Justin Welby, (you) used the expression but I think you are the reincarnation of an ancient evil,” he said.
Lloyds Banking Group is listed as one of the Church Commissioner’s 20 most valuable share holdings, according to its 2017 annual report.
Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) boss Andrew Bailey used a speech earlier this month to update on progress on two HBOS cases, including its investigation into former senior managers of the failed bank.
It followed a 2015 review which found its top brass were ultimately responsible for its demise.
He said a substantial amount of information has been gathered and that new, potentially relevant documents are now being obtained.
Its second HBOS probe relates to “extent and nature of the knowledge” of misconduct within the Reading branch, as well as it communications with the FCA’s predecessor the Financial Services Authority after the issues were discovered.
“We are nearing the end of our investigative review and considering what action is appropriate,” he said.
Lambeth Palace has been contacted for comment.