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Last Updated: Monday, 11 December 2006, 20:11 GMT
Farepak victims in bank protest
Farepak protest
Thousands of people suffered when Farepak shut its doors
Farepak customers have protested outside Halifax Bank of Scotland's offices over what they see as its role in the savings club's demise.

Victims of Farepak's collapse, which led 150,000 people to lose up to 50m, staged a demonstration in Edinburgh as the bank held a reception.

HBOS was criticised for acting as banker to Farepak's parent firm while its troubled subsidiary stayed trading.

HBOS said it was in no way responsible for Farepak's collapse.

The demonstration of about 50 people, outside the bank's headquarters, was led by Suzy Hall.

Ms Hall is wrong in claiming HBOS was somehow responsible for what happened at Farepak
HB0S statement

Ms Hall, who lost 1,000 following Farepak's collapse, said: "It had a huge impact on people who have been prudent savers.

"They saved for 45 weeks to ensure a debt-free Christmas, but they've effectively had Christmas 2006 ripped from under their feet.

"It's very upsetting for everyone involved."

HBOS provided the overdraft facility to European Home Retail - Farepak's owner - and its decision not to extend this eventually led to administrators being called in.

A Response Fund launched to help Farepak customers has raised 6.4m in contributions from the public and companies.

HBOS gave 2m to the fund but some critics have said the amount was small given its role in the collapse.

Right to protest

But HBOS said it was not responsible for how Farepak was run as a business and that claims it pocketed savings belonging to Farepak customers were "completely untrue".

"Banks provide loan facilities, they do not own or run companies," it said.

"Ms Hall is, therefore, wrong in claiming HBOS was somewhere responsible for what happened at Farepak."

HBOS said it defended the right to peaceful protest, but added that its right to go about its business must also be upheld.

In the wake of Farepak's collapse, the Treasury is set to launch a review of Christmas saving clubs and the lack of regulations governing them.

On average, Farepak customers are estimated to have lost about 400 each, but some are thought to have lost nearer 2,000.


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