Five questions answered on the RBS investor compensation claim

There is a £3.5bn compensation claim against the Royal Bank of Scotland.

Thousands of investors have launched a £3.5bn compensation claim against the 82 per cent state owned Royal Bank of Scotland. We answer five questions on the claims.

What are this group of investors seeking compensation for?

The group are raising the claim against the bank as they believe the bank deliberately misled them into believing it was in good financial shape just before it collapsed in 2008.

After collapsing the bank was then bailed out by the government.

How many investors are involved in the suit against the bank?

12,000 private shareholders and 100 institutional investors.

These include 20 charities, churches, pension funds, hedge funds, fund managers and private client brokers, who collectively manage £200bn.

Are any individual bank members also being sued?

Yes, former chairman Sir Tom McKillop is also being sued, as well as Johnny Cameron and Guy Whittaker, who were also senior members of the bank at the time.

Former Chief Executive Fred Goodwin is also being sued by the group.

What have the investors said?

In a statement the group said:

"The action group maintains that the bank's directors sought to mislead shareholders by misrepresenting the underlying strength of the bank and omitting critical information from the 2008 rights issue prospectus.

"This means that RBS will be liable for the losses incurred on shares..."

A spokesman for the investors told the BBC: "Today represents a giant step forward for the many thousands of ordinary people who lost money as the result of inexcusable actions taken by banks and their directors in the financial crisis.

"Now, for the first time, some of these directors will have to answer for their actions in a British court."

What happens next?

The Royal Bank of Scotland has 30 days to respond to the class action which has been raised with the High Court of Justice's Chancery Division in London.

The group have estimated they could receive as much as £4bn from the claim.

Photograph: Getty Images

Heidi Vella is a features writer for Nridigital.com

How Jim Murphy's mistake cost Labour - and helped make Ruth Davidson

Scottish Labour's former leader's great mistake was to run away from Labour's Scottish referendum, not on it.

The strange revival of Conservative Scotland? Another poll from north of the border, this time from the Times and YouGov, shows the Tories experiencing a revival in Scotland, up to 28 per cent of the vote, enough to net seven extra seats from the SNP.

Adding to the Nationalists’ misery, according to the same poll, they would lose East Dunbartonshire to the Liberal Democrats, reducing their strength in the Commons to a still-formidable 47 seats.

It could be worse than the polls suggest, however. In the elections to the Scottish Parliament last year, parties which backed a No vote in the referendum did better in the first-past-the-post seats than the polls would have suggested – thanks to tactical voting by No voters, who backed whichever party had the best chance of beating the SNP.

The strategic insight of Ruth Davidson, the Conservative leader in Scotland, was to to recast her party as the loudest defender of the Union between Scotland and the rest of the United Kingdom. She has absorbed large chunks of that vote from the Liberal Democrats and Labour, but, paradoxically, at the Holyrood elections at least, the “Unionist coalition” she assembled helped those parties even though it cost the vote share.

The big thing to watch is not just where the parties of the Union make gains, but where they successfully form strong second-places against whoever the strongest pro-Union party is.

Davidson’s popularity and eye for a good photo opportunity – which came first is an interesting question – mean that the natural benefactor in most places will likely be the Tories.

But it could have been very different. The first politician to hit successfully upon the “last defender of the Union” routine was Ian Murray, the last Labour MP in Scotland, who squeezed both the  Liberal Democrat and Conservative vote in his seat of Edinburgh South.

His then-leader in Scotland, Jim Murphy, had a different idea. He fought the election in 2015 to the SNP’s left, with the slogan of “Whether you’re Yes, or No, the Tories have got to go”.  There were a couple of problems with that approach, as one  former staffer put it: “Firstly, the SNP weren’t going to put the Tories in, and everyone knew it. Secondly, no-one but us wanted to move on [from the referendum]”.

Then again under different leadership, this time under Kezia Dugdale, Scottish Labour once again fought a campaign explicitly to the left of the SNP, promising to increase taxation to blunt cuts devolved from Westminster, and an agnostic position on the referendum. Dugdale said she’d be open to voting to leave the United Kingdom if Britain left the European Union. Senior Scottish Labour figures flirted with the idea that the party might be neutral in a forthcoming election. Once again, the party tried to move on – but no-one else wanted to move on.

How different things might be if instead of running away from their referendum campaign, Jim Murphy had run towards it in 2015. 

Stephen Bush is special correspondent at the New Statesman. His daily briefing, Morning Call, provides a quick and essential guide to British politics.

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