Exclusive: Bankers Court PCC Chairman
The chairman of the Press Complaints Commission (PCC) is being lined up to orchestrate the creation of a new banking standards body that would have the power to ban individuals found guilty of malpractice.
I have learned Lord Hunt of Wirral has been approached by the British Bankers' Association (BBA) to help draw up a framework for the independent body. He is also being sounded out about becoming its inaugural chairman.
The approach to Lord Hunt was made by Anthony Browne, the new BBA chief executive, several weeks ago.
The Conservative peer would be a logical choice for the role. A former senior partner of Beachcroft, the law firm, he specialised in the insurance and financial services sectors throughout a career dating back to the 1960s.
Now chairman of the Lending Standards Board, another banking sector body, Lord Hunt also has vast experience of developing professional bodies across a wide range of industries, including the legal profession.
He served in the cabinets of both Margaret Thatcher and John Major, and was the architect of a report on the future of the Financial Ombudsman Service.
I understand Lord Hunt is interested in taking on the banking standards body role, although he has not yet formally agreed to do so.
The new organisation has become a key priority of Mr Browne, who only took over at the BBA a few weeks ago.
He believes the toll taken on the reputation of the banking sector by Libor and insurance mis-selling scandals, as well as the continuing controversy over bankers' pay, can only be repaired by prolonged evidence of high ethical standards.
Among the powers of the new body would be the ability to strike off rogue bankers, exceeding the current capabilities of the Financial Services Authority.
Speaking at the BBA's annual conference earlier this week, Mr Browne insisted the creation of a new body was at the feasibility study stage, with a taskforce comprised of bank representatives beginning work on it.
"It has got to be credible. There is no point doing this if it seems like a whitewash," he said.
As I revealed last month, the suggestion for a new banking standards body and a register from which industry employees could be struck off was made by Barclays in its submission to the Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards.
Sir David Walker, who takes over as Barclays' chairman in about 10 days' time, backed the principle of a new body. Also speaking at the BBA summit, he said a more formal code of conduct had worked well in the accounting, legal and medical professions and was required to restore trust in banking.
"The tricky part is working out what it would take to make someone ineligible to work in banking. There's a lot of work that needs to be done," he said.
Chaired by Andrew Tyrie, the Conservative MP who also chairs the Treasury Select Committee, the Commission is likely to consider the creation of a banking standards body and a requirement for bankers to possess formal qualifications.
Lord Hunt and the BBA both declined to comment.