A powerful group of MPs and peers is backing a demand for an investigation into alleged forgery by British banks on repossession documents and court debt recovery papers.
Members of the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on fair banking are supporting a claim by a group calling themselves the Bank Signature Forgery Campaign (BSFC) that there has been ‘industrial scale forgery’ of signatures on documents.
Anthony Stansfield, the high profile police and crime commissioner for Thames Valley, has also become involved in the claims that forged signatures have been applied to documents which were used to evict people from their homes.
Tory MP Charlie Elphicke – a member of the prestigious Treasury Select Committee – said: “We need to know how widespread this is.
There is now enough evidence to suggest this may not be a one-off but a systematic practice.”
Committee chairman Nicky Morgan has asked the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and the National Crime Agency to investigate the claims.
The BSFC says it has uncovered evidence that the practice, which led to billion dollar fines and millions paid in compensation in America, is now operating in Britain.
Handwriting expert Adam Brand says he has seen dozens of examples provided by BSFC and considers it ‘highly likely’ that different people have been signing under the same name.
BSFC founder Julian Watts has collected a dossier of signatures purporting to be by one person but sometimes seem to be very different and he is appealing for people to send him photographs or photocopies of any documents that they are suspicious of.
The allegation is that signatures under the same name on UK court documents known as statements of truth (the section that says ‘I believe the facts stated in this document are true’) appear to have been done by more than one person.
It is suggested that is some cases employees of the bank or its representatives may have faked them in order to speed up the legal process.
Statements of truth
Mr Watts said: “While it’s fine for people to pp letters, people cannot pp the signature on court documents such as witness statements.
Signed ‘statements of truth’ are a foundational aspect of the justice system.
“If it was conclusively proved that signature forgery had taken place people may have been fraudulently evicted from their homes, or had court judgments fraudulently secured against them for other consumer debt.”
A very serious business
Journalist Rupert Jones said: “It is fair to say that faking a signature on a statement of truth is a very serious business.
In late 2017 a UK solicitor was struck off for – among other things – directing other members of staff to fake signatures on witness statements.
“The official ruling in that case stated that ‘the seriousness of the misconduct is at the highest level … the dishonesty was of such gravity that public confidence in the profession would no doubt be undermined were the public to learn of what occurred.’”