For Immediate Release - 21st February 2009
ISLANDS' LANDSBANKI SAVERS PETITION THE QUEEN
Depositors from all over Guernsey - unable to access their savings since October 2008 and becoming increasingly despondent at the fact that Guernsey, alone in the Western world has been unable to help its own people who have been hit by the Banking Crisis - have today filed a petition to the Queen.
Neither the States of Guernsey nor Her Majesty’s Government have so far wanted to step up financially to help Island depositors who put their money in Landsbanki Guernsey or its predecessor Cheshire Building Society: a bricks and mortar financial institution on their own doorstep. They have only been able to withdraw 30% of their savings. The majority of depositors are retired, from all over the Channel Islands, and many of them are now in straitened circumstances.
Her Majesty’s Government bailed out all depositors in Northern Rock Guernsey. They even compensated British (and non-British) retail depositors in Landsbanki’s Icelandic operation which traded from Iceland entirely over the Internet using the Icesave brand and which had no UK branches at all. These depositors all received every penny of their money back.
Tynwald (the Isle of Man Parliament) has recently contributed £150 million so depositors in Kaupthing Singer & Friedlander (Isle of Man) will now be able to withdraw 60p in the pound.
Compensation amounts required to ensure all depositors receive the return of 100% of their savings from Landsbanki Guernsey’s failure are significantly lower than in KSF but Guernsey’s politicians have been reluctant to help local savers.
In the wake of the Manx Government's announcement, Landsbanki Guernsey savers have called upon the States and HM Government to make good on Gordon Brown's promise that no British saver would lose money in the global banking crisis.
Progressively disappointed savers in Guernsey, many of whom are elderly, are now using an 800 year old right to petition the Queen for help. In the Petition, depositors formally ask Her Majesty to “grant them such Support as (Her) Majesty’s wisdom shall seem fit”.
An almost-identical petition is being sent by Jersey depositors with the bank next week.
Every Channel Islander has the right to petition the Queen for help, dating back to the thirteenth century. It is Her Majesty’s Government’s constitutional responsibility to protect Guernsey from external threats in return for the Island pledging loyalty to England's King John in the 13th Century.
The UK Government has recognised the external nature of the Icelandic banking crisis by invoking the 'national economic interests' when freezing the UK assets of the parent company (Landsbanki Islands).
One of the petitioners, Janson Bewey said:
“Neither our own Parliament nor Her Majesty's Government has so far wanted to help people in the Channel Islands who have fallen victim to this crisis. Guernsey alone in the Western world has been unable or unwilling to help its people who have been hit hard.
We are not tax-dodgers but ordinary Guernsey people saving for our retirement in what was for us an onshore bank. Many savers are now in straitened circumstances as a result of the bank's collapse. Landsbanki Guernsey was a regulated bricks and mortar bank here on the island - not some remote Internet operation.
The Isle of Man has recently put up £150 million to help depositors with Kaupthing bank who find themselves in exactly the same position as us. Yet it would cost much less than that to repay all people here who have been affected.”
Notes to Editors:
Every Channel Islander has unique rights and privileges. They include the right not to be called up for military service unless the personal safety of the Monarch is under threat. They also enjoy the ancient right to personally petition the Crown for the redress of grievances.
The right of personal petition is intimately integrated with Guernsey’s constitutional relationship with the UK, since in return for pledging loyalty to the English crown, King John confirmed that the Islands would continue to enjoy the same rights they had held under the Dukes of Normandy. The right of petition survives in real form and has been used in various ways in the last century.
In 1949, there was a Petition from Guernsey people about onerous changes to the regulations in exporting tomatoes. Other petitions have also been made from Guernsey as recently as the 1970’s.
A 1969 Petition from Jersey resulted in an independent investigation of allegations about the Jersey Law Officers. In 1975 there was a petition from Alderney against amendments to the Government of Alderney Law which was signed by a large proportion of the residents including the President, but was dismissed because the law had already received Royal Assent.
In 2007 there were several Petitions about the Sark Reform Law.
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