The Complaints Commissioner has published his decision in relation to complaint brought by Mark Bishop about the actions of the FCA’s Chair and Chief Executive in relation to the establishment of the independent review into the Connaught Fund collapse. Because of the nature of the complaint, the Commissioner investigated it from scratch, rather than waiting for FCA to do so first. The process has taken some months, as it took FCA some time to provide documents required, and there have been two preliminary reports on which both parties commented before the final decision. Mr Bishop alleged that Charles Randell and Andrew Bailey had acted in bad faith and had sought to prevent the full truth about FCA’s “incompetence” from being exposed, and had sought to evade liability to the victims and obstructed reform efforts. He also complained about the limited remit for the independent review and suitability of the reviewer. He sought a new, revised remit for the review, a full conflict check on the proposed reviewer and potentially replacing the reviewer, and the agreement of a change programme within FCA to begin as soon as possible. The Commissioner:
- said that allegations of bad faith were a matter for the courts to decide, but said he had seen no evidence to support the views expressed in the complaint about the actions of Mr Randell and Mr Bailey. He dismissed the complaints against them; and
- said that there was evidence of “a degree of institutional defensiveness” and lack of clarity in decision making. He also said FCA should review the process for appointing reviewers, while not questioning the suitability of the reviewer in this case.
In summary, although there were weaknesses, it did not follow that the review is compromised, so it should continue, although FCA should address the process issues raised.
In response, FCA said it considers its approach is sufficiently clear, and that the fact that the complainant thinks the reviewer is capable and the Commission that he is suitably qualified supports its view that its process for independent reviewers is appropriate. It also sees no reason for any specific review of its enforcement process, but will keep the Commissioner updated on enforcement actions and is considering how it can give greater clarity to its approach to ex-gratia compensation payments.