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NatWest chief executive Alison Rose has agreed to step down after she admitted to inaccurately briefing a BBC journalist about the closure of Nigel Farage’s bank account.
Rose will leave with immediate effect, the bank said in a statement. Paul Thwaite, chief executive of the bank’s commercial and institutional business, will take over for 12 months while NatWest searches for a permanent replacement.
Her resignation comes after Downing Street and the Treasury raised concerns about revelations that she had been the source of an inaccurate report about the personal finances of the former UK Independence party leader.
Chair Howard Davies said her departure was a “sad moment” and that Rose had “dedicated all her working life so far to NatWest”.
Rose said she was “immensely proud of the progress the bank has made in supporting people, families and business across the UK, and building the foundations for sustainable growth”.
Rose has been under mounting pressure since Farage produced evidence last week that he had been stripped of his account at NatWest’s private banking brand Coutts in part because his political views went against its values.
The evidence that Farage obtained from the bank through a data request conflicted with a BBC News story that the closure was made for commercial reasons after Farage fell below a £1mn borrowing requirement.
On Tuesday, Rose admitted to speaking to a BBC reporter about Farage’s account and giving him the impression that the closure was “solely a commercial” decision. She accepted that the conversation was a “serious error of judgment”.
She said she did not disclose any personal financial information. “I want to extend my sincere apologies to Mr Farage for the personal hurt this has caused him . . . I would like to say sorry to the board and my colleagues,” she said in a statement.