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Tuesday, June 15, 1999 Published at 21:05 GMT 22:05 UK

Business: The Company File

Bank apologises for preacher link

Bank of Scotland shareholders demanded answers

The Bank of Scotland has admitted its attempted deal with the American television evangelist Pat Robertson was a mistake.

At the bank's annual meeting in Edinburgh, shareholders heard the deputy governor, Sir John Shaw, apologise for what he said was an error of judgment.

The bank axed a multi-million pound telephone banking deal with the American television preacher after facing sustained attack over his views on women, liberals and homosexuals.

But despite the end of the deal earlier this month, a series of questions were tabled at the annual meeting.

Some shareholders questioned the wisdom of even considering a link with the extremist American preacher.

Crisis meeting

Pressure on the bank came to a head when Mr Robertson, speaking on his Christian Broadcasting network, described Scotland as a "dark land over-run by homosexuals".

[ image: Pat Robertson's appointment sparked controversy and a fall in shares]
Pat Robertson's appointment sparked controversy and a fall in shares
The bank's share prices tumbled after the remarks, and director Peter Burt flew to Boston for a crisis showdown with Mr Robertson, which resulted in the direct banking link being called off.

It is believed that the bank paid Mr Robertson around £2m to sever the link.

Following the outcry, Mr Robertson also resigned from the board of UK retailer Laura Ashley.

However, Sir John told around 450 shareholders at the annual meeting that the bank's ambitions in North America remain unchanged and said it will seek another partner there.

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