“Ethical” Co-op Bank faces legal challenge for closing Palestine Solidarity Campaign accounts

Support us and go ad-free

The Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) has instigated legal proceedings after having their accounts blocked last month by The Co-operative Bank. While the bank claims its decision was based on “risk appetite”, the PSC’s legal challenge alleges discrimination.

But first, what is “risk appetite”?

The term has been defined as:

considerably more than a sophisticated key performance indicator (KPI) system for risk management. It’s the core instrument for better aligning overall corporate strategy, capital allocation, and risk.

Banks take decisions on where they allocate capital, so there would be no need to close any deposit accounts for fear of capital leaving their coffers unknowingly. The risk involved with a solidarity movement’s bank account is difficult to assess. It would therefore be logical to assume that closing any customer’s bank account simply reflects the bank “better aligning overall corporate strategy.”

On that basis, it becomes easy to see how closing the PSC accounts could be classed as discriminatory, as cited in the legal proceedings.

Speaking to The Canary on behalf of Bristol’s Palestine Museum and Cultural Centre, Eddie Clarke quipped:

We know that banking ethics don’t go further than the profit line.

Read on...

Support us and go ad-free

Banks typically offer financial services linked to the business and lifestyle choices of their customers. But the Co-op Bank stands alone in announcing an “Ethical Policy” on its web portal. Look a bit deeper and it even claims this ethical policy is “embedded into how [they] do business.”

The bank is thus declaring its stand on Palestine loud and clear, under its “ethical” slogan:

Actions speak louder than words.

It is taking clear and unequivocal actions, fulfilling another of its claims: “Bringing our Ethical Policy to life.”

But its stance seems to be anything but ethical.

According to most definitions of the word, any action which impedes solidarity with the Palestinian people can only be deemed unethical and in support of their aggressors. According to Eddie Clarke,

Any bank that’s complicit in supporting apartheid and aiding racism from the state of Israel, jeopardising the running of anti-injustice campaigns and interfering with solidarity efforts has to be considered part of the problem.

And the situation bears some similarities to Cuban solidarity efforts and the Cuba Solidarity Campaign, which has faced many difficulties sending aid to Cuba on account of the decades-long US blockade of the island. One difference is that however much one may oppose this policy, it is instituted under US law. The Co-op’s actions against the PSC, meanwhile, have little to do with law. Instead, they are based on internal commercial decisions which cannot override the legal system, no matter how much banks (and the governments that bail them out) would like us to believe otherwise.

The Co-op Bank names Amnesty International (AI) as one of its chosen charities in its ethical values video. And AI makes its core value very clear:

We campaign for a world where human rights are enjoyed by all.

Given that declaration and Amnesty International‘s clear allegations of war crimes committed by Israel, the bank’s endorsing of AI while closing PSC accounts is bizarre. It could even be construed as misrepresentation, which is a crime according to English law, outlined here by Which?:

The Misrepresentation Act exists to protect consumers from false or fraudulent claims that induce you into buying something, or entering into a contract and allows you to claim damages in the case of fraudulent misrepresentation.

It is understandable that discrimination has been given as grounds for the PSC’s legal challenge against the Co-op Bank. Banks act on business policies. Their internal terms and conditions are not law, nor are they above the law. The customers who bank with the Co-op expect ethical actions. If the bank endorses Amnesty International while not assisting in human rights being enjoyed by all, the bank cannot be surprised if they also end up answering accusations about advertising standards and mispresentation.

You can contact the Co-op Bank here to demand the bank reverse the decision on closing the PSC accounts.

Please share your responses with The Canary, particularly if you have a Co-op Bank account.

 

Featured image: Screenshot via YouTube

Support us and go ad-free

We need your help to keep speaking the truth

Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.

Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.

We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.

In return, you get:

* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop

Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.

With your help we can continue:

* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do

We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?

The Canary Support us

Comments are closed