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Shooting is ‘treated like the sex industry’

As the debanking scandal rumbles on, shooting clubs, gunshops and syndicates say they’re being treated like criminals by big-name banks.

Shooting businesses are being treated like sex workers in the debanking scandal, the City regulator has said. The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has said complaints from both industries about banks shutting their accounts show the “challenges” for such businesses “that may divide wider opinion”. 

It comes after shooting clubs, syndicates and gunshops revealed that they are being “treated like criminals” by big-name banks. BASC confirmed that “perfectly legal and respectable businesses” are being targeted and their livelihoods put at risk. 

BASC has been supporting its members in campaigning against unfair banking practices for a number of years and its surveys have shown about a third of shooting businesses have had their accounts closed, while 65% reported difficulties opening an account. At least 15 banks and financial service providers have been accused of treating rural businesses unfairly. Debanking was in the headlines last summer when Nigel Farage’s account was closed by Coutts. The backlash led to an investigation by the FCA. 

In an interim judgement, the FCA said: “We have received submissions from representatives of the gun trade and sports shooting, and adult entertainment. These highlight the challenges, for the members/ affiliates of business types or sectors that may divide wider opinion, of obtaining or maintaining a payment account.” 

The comparison was not based on the nature of the industries, but the challenges that those businesses were facing, sources said. A more detailed FCA report, which takes into account submissions from the industry, is expected later this year. Dr Conor O’Gorman, head of policy and campaigns at BASC, said: “The fact that a very small minority of people oppose shooting does not make it a reputational risk. 

“A small minority of people oppose the banking system [but] that doesn’t mean dealing with banks is a reputational risk to their clients. The problem here is banks discriminating against respectable accounts that have been run for years on a proper basis and that damages people and businesses.” 

An spokesman for HSBC commented: “Decisions on customer accounts [are] never taken due to the legal, political, or personal views of a customer.” 

A Barclays spokesman said “we would only withdraw banking services from an individual or business in exceptional circumstances.”