NORTHERN ROCK STORY- MAIL ON SUNDAY- JULY 2008

This story in the Mail on Sunday newspaper revealed how one man was brought to the brink of suicide after Northern Rock bosses accused him of leaking information.


Andrew Kirkland always denied being the source of the information but was nevertheless pursued by Northern Rock.


Ironically, we were contacted ealier in the year by whistle blowers exposing how Northern Rock bosses were paying themselves large bonuses at a time the bank was being subsidised by the taxpayer, plus a secret plan to close the branches.


We helped ensure these whistle blowers who acted in the public interest were never identified by Northern Rock.


To read the full story scroll down below.


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MAIL ON SUNDAY


A former Northern Rock employee says he has been driven to the brink of suicide after the failed bank accused him of blowing the whistle on its fat cat culture.

In an extraordinary six-month campaign of legal threats, Northern Rock has been pursuing Andrew Kirkland, a 26-year-old systems analyst, claiming he is responsible for leaking details about the huge bonuses secretly awarded to its bosses along with plans to close branches and freeze assets.

The Rock has employed London law firm Schillings which advised BP boss Lord Browne in his disastrous litigation against The Mail on Sunday to represent them in their actions against Mr Kirkland.

But an MP is demanding a Parliamentary debate into why Northern Rock, which was nationalised in February, has spent at least 130,000 of taxpayers' money pursuing
a junior employee on charges he denies, but which in any event involve matters of public interest.

Kevan Jones, Labour MP for North Durham, told Parliament last week the bank had no business attacking a 'whistleblower who exposed the outrageous bonuses the previous management were paying themselves'.

Speaking to The Mail on Sunday which first revealed the payments he said: 'They're hell bent on pursuing this bloke.

'They should be putting more effort into making sure the bank is a success rather than going after these things which are pretty old hat.

'They are using taxpayers' money which should be put to sorting the bank out.'

Mr Kirkland's ordeal began after it emerged that executives at Northern Rock some of whom were blamed for last year's financial crisis which led to the resignation of chief executive Adam Applegarth were being paid hundreds of thousands of pounds in special retention bonuses, effectively doubling their salaries.

He also appears to have been held responsible for a story last month, relating to the bank's plan to close branches and freeze accounts without warning, leaving customers with no access to money.

This plan, which was discussed immediately after the crisis became public last September, was never implemented.

Mr Kirkland, who worked for the bank for four years, has always denied he was the source of these articles.

But since January, he says Schillings has bombarded him with phone calls, letters and emails aimed at making him accept an agreement.

In the proposed deal, the bank said it would drop disciplinary proceedings and waive damages if Mr Kirkland would be potentially liable for its legal costs of 130,000 which, it warns, could increase at a later stage.

He would have his resignation accepted, but would have to keep the terms of the agreement confidential.

Mr Kirkland claims he has been left a psychological wreck and, after being told he was not allowed to write to MPs asking for help, 'started to cry and could not stop crying'.

Doctors have confirmed he is seriously depressed and suffers from regular panic attacks.

Mr Kirkland, who has been unable to find a solicitor to take his case and is facing bankruptcy, also says the stress contributed to the breakdown of his four-year relationship.

In May, Mr Kirkland made a formal complaint to Northern Rock that its legal pursuit of him while he was signed off sick was unjustified.

He says he has now received a High Court writ from Schillings claiming the cost of all legal proceedings brought against him and damages done to the bank's reputation.

Northern Rock is likely to know Mr Kirkland is currently homeless and has minimal assets.

His starting salary in 2004 was only 10,100 per annum although it had risen.

Despite his denials, Northern Rock fired him last week for gross misconduct. Mr Kirkland said: 'I just can't understand why they are now taking so much effort and spending so much money trying to take me to court while they should be spending it on sorting themselves out.'
A spokesman for Northern Rock said: 'This is subject to current High Court proceedings so I'm very limited to what I can say.'









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