Page last updated at 10:12 GMT, Tuesday, 3 March 2009

Former Rock shareholders still angry

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Rock shareholder to fight on

As Northern Rock reports a 1.4bn loss for 2008, three former shareholders express their continuing anger at having their shares taken from them by the government.

While the nationalised bank may now say it is making "good progress" to turn around its fortunes, the three insist they - and other shareholders - remain determined to gain suitable compensation.

DENNIS GRAINGER, NORTHERN ROCK SHAREHOLDER ACTION GROUP
"There is no doubt that the company had a risky policy, but when you look at what's happened since, was Northern Rock really as bad as people made out?

I mean, there's been huge money put into other banks. I don't think that Northern Rock was too bad. It made a profit for eight years, it was paying good dividends.

As a member of the Northern Rock Shareholder Action Group, I'm the lead plaintiff in the legal battle for compensation for the shareholders.

In this region, 96% of shareholders were over 60 years old and they were not speculators on the stock markets. They had the shares from when the company was formed and they've lost everything. I'm fighting for the small person who I think has been ripped off by the government.

The top value of my shares was 114,000, but that really is not the issue for me. I've met over 2,000 people on the street who have lost almost everything - 6,000, 12,000 each - and these people feel totally ripped off, they feel as though they're letting their families down as their nest eggs have gone.

I think we'll go all the way to Strasbourg if need be to prove the government cannot confiscate people's property and treat them so badly, and incidentally not even contact them.

They took people's shares in February. It took the government until November to even contact them to let them know. It was nine months of people suffering and waiting and knowing nothing.

I think that the politicians should hold their heads in shame for how they've treated the small person.

Yet I think it's important to say that despite all the criticism of Northern Rock, and all the problems it has had, it has now paid back two-thirds of the government loan.

So I'm really pleased that Northern Rock is fighting back - the loss [of 1.4bn] is quite acceptable in the circumstances - it could have been far worse. Look what's happened to HBOS and all the rest of them."

ALAN MELSUN, FORMER NORTHERN ROCK SHAREHOLDER

"I pretty much blame the government for the way it has handled the whole affair. For the way the news was leaked to the BBC, which caused the run on the bank.

And especially given the way they've treated other banks since Northern Rock. I don't think it has treated us very fairly, seeing the fact they have bailed out Bradford and Bingley and all the other banks since then.

I just had the minimum 500 shares, so I guess I have lost about 5,000 from when the shares were at their peak.

Basically I'd kept the shares for a rainy day, but it came to nothing, which is ironic since the government encourages you to save for stuff, and I did and that's what's happened.

We [the former shareholders] should take it as far as we possibly can.

I think the government's acted extremely badly for all Northern Rock shareholders. I think it should be held to account. I don't see why we should just let it off or keep quiet about it. People should know what the situation is and the way they've treated us.

I've now closed my Northern Rock account, because how can you trust a bank which is obviously being dictated [to] by the government these days? I can't trust them having stolen my shares from me."

ALAN APPLEBY, FORMER NORTHERN ROCK SHAREHOLDER

"I don't like being robbed and we'll take action to remedy this. There are 150,000 small shareholders, many of them pensioners, who have been robbed in a similar fashion. They don't know where to start, or how to deal with it.

The losses are probably due to the machinations of the management, the new directors under nationalisation.

I mean, the repossessing of mortgages on a vast scale is undoubtedly going to have done huge damage to Northern Rock, at a time, of course, when the government is asking banks to lend.

The problem [in the banking industry] was American. But unfortunately the lack of planning by the British government has made things so much worse here.

It has only just started to talk about sorting out regulation. The hedge funds have had a free run at ripping off hundreds of millions of pounds from the banks, and the government did absolutely nothing until a few months ago.

Something should have been done in 2007, and of course the house prices should never have been allowed to inflate at the levels they went to in the first place.

If I'm robbed by someone and I know where the money's gone, I'm certainly not going to put it behind me. I'll pursue this."



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