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Now women’s sports group is debanked

As a women’s group with ‘fieldsports’ in its title is refused a bank account, BASC is passing details to the Financial Conduct Authority.

In another case of high-profile debanking (News, 17 January), Women Who Work in Fieldsports (WWWF) has been denied access to bank accounts because of the group’s association with shooting and hunting. 

WWWF was formed in December 2022 to introduce a strong female network within the shooting sector. Members of the group include women who may not shoot or fish themselves but help run shoot days, work in the office, help process game, run a game meat business, or have any other involvement within fieldsports. 

The group has been denied accounts from two high street banks, preventing the WWWF from setting up payments for business essentials such as a website. It is now considering rebranding with a name that does not include the word “fieldsports” to expedite the banking process. 

Vanessa Steel, a co-founder of WWWF, told ST that the refusal from the banks to provide accounts to the group is emblematic of a larger issue: banks closing accounts based on ethical disagreements. 

“The denial of banking services to individuals due to ethical differences is a contentious practice that raises questions about the intersection of financial services and moral judgement,” she said. 

“In instances where banks decide to close accounts based on ethical grounds, like the case involving political figure Nigel Farage, it reflects a potential overreach by financial institutions into the realm of personal beliefs. 

“This raises concerns about the implications for freedom of expression and financial inclusivity. Denying banking services to those with differing ethical or political viewpoints not only curtails financial stability but also poses a threat to democratic values that uphold diverse perspectives,” she added. 

“To build a fair and inclusive financial system, it is essential for banks to revisit their policies regarding account closures based on ethical considerations. Striking a balance between addressing potential ethical concerns and preserving individual rights is crucial for fostering a financial environment that respects diverse opinions and ensures equitable access to essential services.” 

Dr Conor O’Gorman, BASC’s head of policy and campaigns, said: “Shooting-related businesses should be entitled to fair access to banking services. BASC is gathering further evidence of debanking across the sector to feed into the Financial Conduct Authority’s banking services review. Banks and other financial service providers should be required to give a reason for refusals to open accounts or when closing accounts.”