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tv   Inside Out  BBC News  September 16, 2017 12:30am-1:01am BST

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from severe to critical after a explosion on a tube train. the so—called islamic state group says that one of its so—called "detachments" planted the device. the un has called north korea's latest missile launch ‘highly provocative‘ and called on pyongyang to denuclearise the region. the united states, china and russia have all condemned the missile test. amnesty international says it has new evidence which shows an "orchestrated campaign" by security forces to burn rohingya villages in western myanmar. it claims it has evidence the military is trying to push the rohingya out of the country. the american actor harry dean stanton has died at the age of 91. in a career that lasted over 60 years, stanton appeared in films including paris, texas, cool hand luke and godfather 2. now on bbc news: inside out. ten yea rs
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ten years ago one of the north‘s greatest success stories hit the wall. tonight in a special programme we ask, why did northern rock rumble? this was a barrack which had been frankly run into the ground. the bank of england's top man tells us the bank of england's top man tells us he was stopped from a secret rescue to save it. my advice was very clear, that we should not reveal publicly the fact that we were going to lend to northern rock. and we meet the people who paid the price of the collapse. i was devastated. i didn't know how we were going to manage, how we were going to turn, and just thinking my vision to give him the best life possible under the circumstances was just suddenly wiped away. i'm chris jackson and this is inside out. ten years ago, this was the scene outside northern rock branches
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all over the country. customers were desperate to get their money out. it was a classic run on the bank. in newcastle, veronica craig was trying to persuade people she had known for years not to abandon the rock. i was walking up and down this queue talking to customers i knew personally and saying, "what on earth are you doing?" they were saying, "it's all the money we've got." some had arrived at dawn, a few with hundreds of thousands of pounds each in northern rock accounts. i think they're going to run out of money altogether. it isjust a colossal shock. i don't think i'll ever trust the banking system in this
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this country again. they'd be crying, i'd be crying, some people would say, "i just got off the bus and saw the queue, i thought "i betterjoin the queue." it was really, really upsetting. this was the trigger. one of britain's biggest mortgage lenders needs emergency support from the bank of england. northern rock has problems raising money because of the crisis in the financial markets. it was the first run on a british bank since 1866. customers are being told not to worry. the bbc‘s robert peston broke the news. there is no suggestion that this business is fundamentally bust, but merely running out of money in this way for a bank is extraordinarily serious. the way that i got the story was really old—fashioned journalistic detective work and i was confident i had all the pieces of the puzzle and i would be able to report that they were going to the bank of england cap in hand to be propped up. the rock had been flying high.
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it was lending around a fifth of all the mortgages in the uk. but it was running out of money. the reason was the rock's business model. instead of borrowing from its customers to finance its mortgages, it was getting 75% of its money from other banks, but in august 2007, those at the banks turned off the taps and hung on to their money. the cause lay on the other side of the atlantic. the us banks were panicking. for years they had loaned billions in mortgages and house prices were going down. there was a ripple that turned into a tidal wave. there's a saying that when the tide goes out, you soon find out who isn't wearing trunks. in 2007, us house prices crashed, exposing millions who couldn't afford to pay their mortgages. the banks had huge bad debts so they stopped lending to each other.
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4,000 miles away, northern rock and its staff soon paid the price. so why northern rock before any other bank in britain? we approached a number of very senior insiders to get their version of events. only one, who wishes to remain anonymous, would talk. the insider claims the problems in america happened just as northern rock was trying to get one of its regular loans from other banks. if it had been a month later, northern rock would have been able to borrow the money it needed. it would have been in one of the strongest financial positions at that time. whether or not it was that simple, it led to the collapse of northern rock. and a lot of pain. stephen gill, once he worked for northern rock, until the run. i had never even heard the term "run on the bank" before that day. i didn't know what to make of it, didn't understand it.
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there was a lot of nervousness about. we were trying to do our work but at the same time we are looking at the bbc news website to see what is happening to the share price. soon the heat was on. the rock began a three—year programme of job cuts. the workforce fell from more than 6,000 to 2,000. staff at newcastle—based northern rock today learned the bank wants to cut a further 680 jobs. unions described the news as appalling. when you start seeing people who have been there a long time and you know they are good at theirjob suddenly get made redundant, you start feeling then nobody is safe. i was scared for myjob, yes. stephen took redundancy. there was so much uncertainty. i didn't know if there was an end coming or not. just by chance this place came along and it's only around the corner from where i live as well, so ijust had to take the plunge and see if i could do this.
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so if the bank had survived, would you still be there? oh, yeah, definitely. i was there 12 years and i enjoyed every single one of them. so, could the crisis have been avoided? we've been told yes, if another bank took over northern rock. in fact, the rock had been trying to arrange a takeover by lloyds since august. but our insider says the rescue deal was scuppered by the bank of england. we came close. lloyds were keen but they wanted a bank of england guarantee for the money. there would have been no run. the bank of england refused. but two of the men deciding the bank's future deny it was ever a serious offer. i would have welcomed any approach that was going to work. the problem was lloyds showed
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an interest for a couple of days but nothing — they never made any offer or anything like that. lloyds never came to me and said, would you lend to enable us to buy northern rock? i think they did it because they knew that it was pretty silly for them to ask for money that was special subsidy to them. so a fire sale of northern rock to lloyds was never going to happen? it was never going to happen. it's a red herring. so, the lloyds takeoverfailed, but it's claimed the bank of england could have saved northern rock by giving the rock cash. but behind closed doors. in other words, a secret deal. the bank of england lends the money. it doesn't tell anyone. the rock gets through its cash shortage and back on its feet. the markets know nothing. the northern rock insider said they wanted to do just that — a secret deal.
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lending without letting the markets know would have got us through but we were told it was illegal. this was made available to other banks a few months later to the tune of more than £61 billion. but the bank of england governor flatly disagrees. he says it was northern rock and the regulator, the financial services authority, who wanted to make the loan public. northern rock itself and fsa all felt that it would be a good idea to reveal it. my advice was very clear, that we should not reveal publicly the fact that we were going to lend to northern rock. but the advice of the lawyers and the fsa was that this could not be done, it was against a european directive. actually, none of my colleagues in europe believed that for a minute. we asked the former fsa head, sir hector sants, to respond. he said it would be inappropriate for him to comment. is there another explanation why
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northern rock wasn't saved? the senior insider says the rock was punished for being northern. we were seen as a bunch of northern spivs who deserves what they were getting. no, i don't think that's true at all. after all, other banks also failed in the same way. northern rock was perhaps unfortunate in being at the front of the queue, but it wasn't different in nature from the other banks and the other banks also failed. so, no lloyds takeover. no secret loan. the bank of england was preparing to announce it was providing emergency cash. it looked like they could avoid much of the storm, until robert peston stepped in. he became saint and sinner. one of britain's biggest mortgage lenders, northern rock,
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is applying to the bank of england for emergency financial support. fear has been stalking the markets for weeks now. the mere fact that the bank of england has stepped in will actually worry people tomorrow. i suspect we will see shares coming off a bit. i was accused of destroying northern rock, trying to bring down the entire british banking system, the british economy. it's all bollocks. i was simply reporting on the reckless behaviour of banks, including northern rock. the media put the knives in and destroyed the reputation. if somebody is in trouble and they fall down, the good samaritan story, you can help them up or you can kick them in the balls and steal their watch. that is what happened to us. somebody stole our watch. i would struggle not to punch robert peston in the face
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if i saw him. peston reported in a way that suggested the bank was bust. having spoken to senior officials, i can tell you that they are saying there is no reason for depositors to panic. in a way, telling people not to panic when their life savings are going is potentially the reason they do panic. i don't think that's right. i did say, for example, that i thought it very unlikely that depositors would lose any money. were you really a journalist with an ego who saw personal opportunity? indeed, looking back at the events that it triggered off, would you do exactly the same again? under the rules, the moment that northern rock request emergency help from the bank of england in that way, it has failed. that is an event. if i had not reported that event,
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i would have been guilty of playing god in an incredibly patronising way. i would have been effectively saying that adults were not capable of understanding the significant information and that would have been an appalling thing for any journalist to do, to withhold serious information of that sort from the public. he did it in a very responsible way and i don't think in any way you can blame robert peston for the consequences that there was. the rock's small number of branches and its online payment system, which crashed, stoked the panic. i couldn't get on the internet from wednesday onwards, couldn't get our money, couldn't get into branches. that started us getting worried.
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but a major cause of its problems may lie a decade earlier when it changed from a building society to a bank. that freed it to take more risks, pursue profit and it's claimed, under its swashbuckling boss, it did both. adam applegarth was a very interesting character. he was fun, jack the lad, he gave it plenty all over the place. he was larger than life. applegarth was a sunderland lad with a passion for fast cars. and a salary of more than £1.25 million. he'd never worked anywhere else. the analysts lapped it up for a while, they couldn't get enough of him. and he thought he walked on water. but he hadn't done his homework properly. it's not in our interests or our borrowers' for them to overextend themselves. the lessons of the early '905
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are burned onto all our hearts. not burned enough for city insiders. it's a people's business. in a people's business, you have to make sure that they respect you, that they like the way you grow your business, that you haven't been ridiculously aggressive, and that you haven't overstepped the mark. he didn't tick any of those boxes. they knew there was trouble at the mill, as they say, and they knew this couldn't go on at this level without there being a heavy fall at the end of it. the city saw two problems. the rock was getting around 75% of its money from other banks, and it appeared to be taking risks to get business. it's claimed basic checks like proof of identity were being ignored. we were told by senior managers just to override them. just get the applications through, because the half—year
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results were coming up or the yearly results were coming up. it seems you are giving mortgages with no real checks. yeah. pretty much, yeah, but it wasjust to show that the company was continuing the growth that applegarth wanted. juicy offers likely to get a mortgage were used to tempt customers. the northern rock is advancing 125% of the value of a home to first—time buyers, an offer the building society denies is reckless. together was a 95% mortgage. but it also came with an unsecured loan of up to £30,000. and that, it is claimed, attracted crooks like bees to honey. from day one, it was targeted for fraud. someone was arrested and the police rang and said, "do you know this chap has nine northern rock together
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mortgages with you?" directors were caught hiding thousands of bad debts. one of its former bosses emerges from his home this afternoon, admitting he failed to expose the extent of the bank's problem loans. i accept full responsibility for my own actions. the rock still had a majority of good mortgages, but arrears rose sharply. tens of thousands were behind in payments. the bank of england became alarmed. once we started to lend to northern rock, then of course, they gave us some of their mortgages as security on those loans, and our staff had to examine those mortgages. and as time went by, concerns were raised about whether these mortgages were quite as good as they had cracked up to be. the treasury select committee delivered its verdict. first up, chairman matt ridley. you had to borrow billions of public money from the bank of england, you've damaged the good name of british banking. why are you still clinging to office? i would like to say that what has
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happened has been extremely distressing to us, as it has been to other stakeholders, shareholders, employees and creditors. then it was adam applegarth‘s turn. but this is a humiliation. have none of the board any sense of honour? has nobody offered to resign? i feel great regret for the anxiety our retail customers have seen. within weeks, both had resigned. we asked both matt ridley and adam applegarth to be interviewed in this programme but both declined. but does the blame lie solely at the door of northern rock? he is now politically a dead man walking and if the prime minister could actually make a decision, he would move him. was your eye off the ball with this one? when i became chancellor in the summer of 2007,
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and when you become a new minister you will sit down with your officials and say, "these are the things you need to worry about." financial stability was simply not mentioned. five months after the crisis started, ministers now decide that public ownership is the best option. after the rock was nationalised, it was revealed shareholders would get nothing. many were rock employees who had held onto their share bonuses when the run began. they thought it still had a future. but in my mind, i was thinking, you know, this will blow over, the share price will come back up, northern rock will survive. we will get through this. my shares were just in excess of £60,000. stephen lost the lot. i think i've got "mug" written on my forehead now. i liked northern rock, because it was a north—east company. and i thought they were developing very well. brian has been campaigning for years to recover the savings he ploughed into rock shares. how much money did you put in?
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altogether, by the time it finished, i put in over £400,000. but never in your worst nightmare would you have thought that the government could make new laws to be able to take the company away from the owners. it was actually life—changing. it was everything to us. marilyn sterry was about to cash in her partner paul's shares. they were worth £12,000. the money was to buy a mobility car. i was devastated. didn't know how we were going to manage, how we were going to turn. and just thinking, my vision to give him the best life possible under the circumstances was just suddenly wiped away. just very upset, very angry. it is very sad, it's tragic,
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considering the importance to the north—east of england, as well as shareholders, but from the government's point of view, it had to be fair to all shareholders and if we got ourselves into a position where we were paying out to people who had bought shares on the off chance they could pick up a bob or two, we would have been condemned. but while most shareholders lost, those who sold before the run gained, including some northern rock executives. when they were then encouraging staff to still buy into the share save schemes with their own earned money, theyjust decided to offload i think about £5 million worth of shares. it was actually quite a slap in the face to the staff. adam applegarth alone was reported to have sold more than £2.6 million
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worth at peak prices in the two years before the run. after nationalisation, the rock was split into a supposed good bank and bad bank. the bad bank, northern rock asset management, took over most of the mortgages. it's claimed a tough business regime was introduced. after the crash it wasjust — we want as much cash as we can get. get rid of customers who were mortgaging, if we could, by clamping down on arrears, and kind of pursuing people a lot more actively for arrears. it became a lot more aggressive, so to speak, in that, "well, you're in arrears. we want the money." uk asset resolution, which oversaw the rock's mortgages, told us its role was to maximise value for taxpayers and treat customers fairly. it was not true to imply it was clamping down on customers. so how much has the rock lost the government? well, the answer appears to be a big fat zero.
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in fact, it looks like it'll make a hefty profit. anywhere between £8 billion and £11 billion, depending on which official estimate you choose. that's because the new management focused on getting the money in. new lending stopped. despite rising arrears, most mortgages continued to be paid. a good company that could have been saved, should have been saved. but this government chose to take the property away from us. now the rock's mortgages are expected to make a profit, should it have been nationalised without compensation? should its shareholders, charities and workers have lost out? the shareholders say no, despite government opposition and losing a european court appeal. the government is going to make a huge fortune. even if they paid all the shareholders their money back,
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at the share price that it was before the government took it over, i think they would still have billions left over. the company was solvent. they made the law so they could embezzle us of our value. when we nationalised it, what we did was we said we would refer to an independent arbitrator the valuation of those shares. and of course, because of the state of the bank, they were worthless. by february 2007, nobody would touch it. this was a bank which had been frankly run into the ground. but mervyn king says he backed paying the shareholders, if the rock eventually made a profit. see, my plan was that the government would intervene and acquire the shares legally by saying to the shareholders, "although we're taking the shares from you, we will ensure that you do have the claim on the residual value", and i think that would have been a fair deal. now, the lawyers in the treasury
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said that was not feasable. we asked the treasury if it would pay compensation. in a statement, it said it was continuing to recover the costs of the bailout. ten years on, newcastle city council now own the former northern rock tower. veronica has lost shares worth £12,000. she's now retired. adam applegarth was reported to have become an adviser to a us company investing in mortgages last year. mervyn king retired as governor of the bank of england and was made a life peer in 2013. robert peston is now itn's political editor. alistair darling was made a life peer in 2015. and those who had faith in the rock are still hurting. after the crash, they would never say they worked at northern rock because you were actually a bit ashamed to say you worked at northern rock. i try not to be bitter but i think i do feel bitter.
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i was angry. angry but... ..even more so helpless. it's very sad what happened to the rock. like a family business, well looked after, and then it went to the dogs. and that's it for tonight. now, if you're a customer or worked for northern rock, please do get in touch. and adam applegarth, if you're watching and you would like to break your ten—year silence, we'd love to hear from you. hello. after several days of quite cool, showery weather, only subtle changes
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taking place this weekend. there will be fewer showers around by the time we get to sunday. throughout the weekend, occasional sunshine, in it it feels quite pleasant. in the showers, it feels quite cold. some quite chilly nights around, as well. perhaps a touch of frost in a few places. it is chilly because there has been a flow of air from the north. high pressure to the west of us, low pressure to the east. the air coming down from the north of these pressure systems, and it's unstable air, bringing showers. a few of the showers for western parts of wales, cornwall, devon, a few near north sea coast zones, into northern scotland, as well. but away from the showery areas, and most of us will be away from the showery areas, we're likely to start the day with some pleasant sunshine. just some areas of cloud and there, but where you've been clear for any period of time overnight, it will be a chilly start. so temperatures are only gradually recovering as we go through the morning.
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it is still on the breezy side. you'll certainly notice that across northern scotland, and here we're getting a fair few showers coming in on that stiff breeze. so on through the day, then, where you start with some sunshine, the cloud is going to build. there'll be the threat of a shower. where you start cloudy, you may well see the sunshine come out for a time, but there is still the threat of a shower. and it could be we see a longer spell of rain moving into parts of western scotland and into northern ireland. the showers get going elsewhere. there could be some heavy downpours around, especially across some eastern parts of england, that could come with a rumble of thunder. but everywhere at risk of getting at least one shower moving through that may be heavy. temperatures into the mid—teens. now, as we go on through into the evening, the chance again for another spell of rain, this time affecting parts of wales, south—west england. and even overnight, saturday night into sunday, there could be some heavy rain for some into south—west england. heavy showers close to the south coast, whereas many other places will become dry, and it is going to be much cooler in rural spots compared with towns and city centres. for some in scotland,
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maybe northern ireland too, we will get close to freezing, for a touch of frost as sunday begins. maybe one or two mist and fog patches, because there are lighter winds for part two of the weekend, on sunday. as high pressure begins to nudge in, and it will give mainly dry weather to scotland, northern ireland, variable cloud. wales and western england will see relatively few showers, but elsewhere across england, a scattering of showers. they could be on the heavy side, but by no means will everyone get one. with lighter winds, more seeing some sunshine. it will feel a little bit warmer by the time we get to sunday. but monday and tuesday is looking pretty quiet, not many showers at all. quite a bit of cloud, a little bit of sunshine. this is bbc world news.
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i'm kasia madera. our top stories: the uk's terror threat level is raised as the hunt goes on for the person who planted a bomb on a rush—hour train in london. thejoint terrorism the joint terrorism analysis centre, the independent organisation responsible for setting the threat level on the basis of available intelligence, has now decided to raise the national threat level from severe to critical. it's the fifth terror attack in the uk this year. the so—called islamic state group says it planted the device which injured 29 people. north korea's leader says his country will meet its nuclear ambitions despite sanctions, after the un strongly condemned friday's missile test. and the cassini space probe takes its final plunge into saturn, ending a 20 yearjourney of extraordinary discoveries.


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