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Bishop, lawmaker and equality campaigner recruited to raise UK bank standards

04/01/2015 | 07:12pm US/Eastern

A bishop, a senior lawmaker and a human rights campaigner have been picked for a 14-strong board aiming to push Britain's banks to improve standards after a series of scandals.

The Banking Standards Board (BSB) on Thursday unveiled a panel including five bankers and nine people from outside the industry to review practices after confidence in banks has been rocked by mis-selling and rate-rigging problems.

The BSB will be funded by banks but will operate independently as it seeks to raise standards and rebuild public trust through a voluntary code of conduct. The board, which is not a regulator, has been set up on the recommendation of a 2013 government review of the banking sector.

"Trust in the system has been badly damaged and it’s no surprise that the public expects change after everything that has happened," said Colette Bowe, the former telecoms regulator who was appointed chairman of the BSB in October.

"Banks recognise the urgent need to raise their game and build the necessary momentum for change. It won’t happen overnight and it will be an uncomfortable journey, but the time has come to win back trust."

Bowe said the board had been picked to shine a spotlight on competence, culture and patterns of behaviour across retail, investment and commercial banking.

It includes John McFall, the former Labour MP who headed the influential Treasury Select Committee and still deals with financial issues now he is in the House of Lords.

It also includes Brendan Barber, the former general secretary of the TUC trade union body who now chairs employee arbitration service ACAS.

Onora O'Neill, a member of the House of Lords and chair of the UK's Equality and Human Rights Commission, is another member, along with David Urquhart, the Bishop of Birmingham who is the Archbishop of Canterbury's envoy to China and previously worked at oil major BP (>> BP plc).

UK Treasury official Alison Cottrell will join later in April as the BSB's first chief executive.

The five bankers on the board include HSBC's (>> HSBC Holdings plc) UK chief Antonio Simoes, Citigroup's (>> Citigroup Inc) UK boss James Bardrick and Morgan Stanley International (>> Morgan Stanley) Chief Operating Officer Clare Woodman.

The BSB will this year outline the progress of banks in improving standards and highlight any shortcomings.

Britain's banks are backing the BSB, which will report publicly on its findings. It has also received the support of U.S. banks Citigroup (>> Citigroup Inc) and Morgan Stanley, although some international lenders voiced reluctance to join, industry sources have said.

(Editing by David Goodman)

By Steve Slater

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