First and most importantly, thank you to everyone who has helped SME Alliance and its members in so many ways during what has been another tough year. Although a few members have managed settlements in a few cases, that has been the exception rather than the rule and let no one tell you those settlements were generous in any true sense of the word.
Generally, and I am not sure whether I'm still surprised about this or not, too many bankers and their advisors still seem to think claims for fair and reasonable compensation for lives and businesses destroyed between one and two decades ago, amounts to a war. They battle on ( as I've said before this year) regardless of the huge personal damage they continue to cause. They've either lost sight of what went on over a decade ago, or just as conveniently, have tried to bury it all, by re-writing history.
Any ideas of just "doing the right thing for a change " seem to be completely outside their blinkered vision. For them, it seems also, the massive adverse PR and indeed, as we have been told, the actual loss of business, seems to be acceptable collateral damage.
The recent Advice from Jonathan Laidlaw QC , drove a horse and cart through Lloyds Bank's " Griggs Review". The FCA also was criticised strongly. How embarrassing it was during a recent debate, to hear a Minister attempt to defend the indefensible. Ministers, unlike many supportive constituent MPs, think the five million or so SMEs employing over 25 million people , are just nothing to do with them.
On a wider basis it is clear to most of us that almost no one ( except apparently SME Alliance and its members and friends and a few MPs) is prepared to stand up to what have been described as criminally corrupt bankers and their advisors.
If anyone still doubts this idea of corruption, have a look not only at the Advice mentioned above, but also the damning report written by Sally Masterton, " Project Lord Turnbull" issued earlier this year. Five years on, Lloyds finally admitted they had in fact commissioned the report in 2013, after half a decade of denials.
The Report makes devastating reading. Meanwhile the NCA, the SFO, the FRC and the FCA, to name just a few disinterested parties, apparently hope this will all just go away.
Turning to the 72 per cent taxpayer disaster which is RBS, it perhaps the board thinks has got off lightly this year because of our greater focus on Lloyds. It seems fairly clear to me that the spotlight will be brightly back to shine on RBS and its GRG division in 2019.
May I remind everyone that SME Alliance is a small group of people but one which tries to punch well above its weight. We can do this only because we are extremely focused. We are not trying to change the world, not even the banking system. We are trying to make sure our members get the compensation to which they are entitled so that they can get on with their lives.
I would also like to thank many in the media who have been so supportive with their time this year as well as members of the APPG on Fair Banking ( special mention for Kevin Hollinrake) as well as many MPs who have been helping individual members.
We will keep fighting because it is to our mind unacceptable that major financial institutions such as Lloyds , RBS and other banks and in particular certain senior executives and executive directors of those banks, should continue to deny and cover up the enormous human and other damage they have caused and continue to cause and believe they are and remain above the law.