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‘Disgusted’ couple could be left homeless after 30-year-old banking error

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    A couple fear they could be made homeless after an alleged banking error three decades ago left them "ruined".

    Bernard Lockett, 78, claimed he and wife Lea, 73, lost tens of thousands of pounds from the sale of a property thanks to a "mismanagement" by RBS, who deny the claims.

    The alleged mistake started in 1993 when the couple sold a holiday tour business followed by their bungalow in Comrie in Perthshire, Scotland, the following year.

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    Bernard said he had a company overdraft and business loan with the high street bank, and after they sold the home for £131,000, he had expected to be left with £20,000 in profit.

    But he claims this never appeared and Bernard wasn't told how much of the money was used to pay off their overdraft.

    Bernard requested meetings but claims he was constantly "rebuffed" by the bank.

    RBS has rejected the couple's claim.

    "I'm pretty disgusted that they can treat people the way they do and not even grant a meeting to talk about something," he said.

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    The couple is now scared they could be forced out of their rented property because of their financial losses.

    "If this landlord suddenly said, 'I'm sorry, that's the end now, you've got to go,' I don't really know where we would go or what we would do," Bernard said.

    Bernard, originally from East London, married Finnish wife Lea in 1986 and the pair moved to Perthshire together to run Finnchalet Holidays, which offered tours of Scandinavia and Northern England.

    Bernard claims RBS made several mistakes with his company's cash, including double-paying standing orders and paying redundant direct debits.

    In 1993, as his debts mounted, Bernard sold the company and home and the pair planned to move to a rented home in Kent, using the profits to start a new tour company.

    But he said he never received the cash.

    He said: "I had a personal account for them as well as for my mortgage, and when everything was settled up, we just never got a statement from RBS about what they'd done with the money.

    "We never got a penny from the house sale."

    Bernard had solicitors take on his case in 1998 but the firm he hired was struck off by the Law Society for malpractice a few years later.

    He then found out the lawyers had lodged his papers with the courts incorrectly and the case now fell outside of the six-year legal limit.

    In 2010 the couple's landlord put their home up for sale – and it's been an uphill battle ever since.

    "Our personal finances were absolutely ruined," he said.

    In 2011, the couple's case was accepted by the Parliamentary Commission into Banking Standards and Bernard was granted a meeting with RBS in 2013.

    Bernard also gave evidence at the All Party Parliamentary Group into Fair Business Banking (APPG) in 2018, who found the bank had incorrectly recouped the money from his house sale.

    A new legal team from Menzies & Co LLP sent RBS a report in early 2021 estimating the pair had been entitled to £20,481 from the sale of their home – which, including the possibility the money could have been invested, claiming RBS now owed the Locketts around £151,485.

    But Bernard claimed the bank did not acknowledge the report and told him they would stop replying to his correspondence.

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    A spokesperson for RBS said: "Following thorough internal investigations over a 30-year period, extensive dialogue with Mr Lockett, and an external review by the Ombudsman in 2011 which found in the bank's favour, we reject Mr Lockett's claims.

    "We have considered the Menzies report in full, and determined that it does not contain any evidence that contradicts our findings to date.

    "The bank has fully complied with regulatory requirements for record-keeping in this case.

    "Whilst we always strive to resolve outstanding issues for customers, unfortunately this is not always possible, and we have taken the rare decision not to revisit this complaint unless new evidence is provided to us."

    • Money
    • Property
    • Scotland

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