Chris Hale is chair emeritus and a senior consultant at law firm Travers Smith

Chris Hale is chair emeritus and a senior consultant at law firm Travers Smith – Travers Smith

A senior consultant at the law firm hired by NatWest to investigate the closure of Nigel Farage’s account has described Brexit as “a tragedy”.

Chris Hale penned an opinion piece in which he referred to the referendum debate as a “disturbing mix of xenophobia, racism and nostalgia”.

Mr Hale, who was described by the industry magazine that ran the article as a “pro-Remain lawyer”, works for Travers Smith.

The leading legal firm was on Friday appointed by NatWest to review Mr Farage’s case and to look at how the bank handles the closure of accounts.

Mr Farage said the latest revelations raised questions over whether the outcomes of the independent investigation can be taken seriously.

They come after Howard Davies, the NatWest Group chairman, described the bank’s former chief executive Dame Alison Rose as a “great leader”.

His comments, which come after Dame Alison was forced to resign over the institution’s handling of the case, sparked consternation amongst MPs.

Mr Farage tweeted on Friday: “NatWest Group have chosen establishment legal firm Travers Smith to investigate my account closure.

“The chair emeritus and senior consultant, Chris Hale, is a “pro-Remain lawyer” who said Brexit was “a tragedy”.

“He wrote about “xenophobia, racism and nostalgia” during the Brexit debate… These are the same words used against me in the secret Coutts dossier.

“How can anyone take seriously anything this review will say?”

Mr Hale made the remarks in a column published by the Law.com website on the evening of June 24 2016, the day after the Brexit referendum result.

‘Result of vote is a tragedy’

In the opinion piece he wrote that “the result of the vote yesterday is – for liberal, cosmopolitan Londoners like me – a tragedy”.

Praising the EU for bringing peace to Europe and creating jobs, he added: “A detailed examination of the economic, political and security arguments pointed in one direction – Remain.

“The debate, though, was conducted publicly in emotional soundbites and the disturbing mix of xenophobia, racism and nostalgia for a Britain which never existed, underlying much Leave campaigning, adds to my unease as I absorb the result.”

Mr Hale was at the time a senior partner at the firm. He is now listed on its website as its chair emeritus and a senior consultant in the private equity and financial sponsors group.

There is no suggestion that in his current roles he would be involved in the review of Mr Farage’s case or would seek to influence its outcome.

NatWest initiated the internal investigation after the furore over the decision by Coutts, which it owns, to “de-bank” Mr Farage over his political views.

The scandal has already claimed two bosses’ scalps with Dame Alison having to resign after it emerged she leaked the former Brexit Party leader’s banking details to the BBC.

Peter Flavel, the chief executive of Coutts, has also been forced to quit over his handling of the affair, with Mr Davies also under growing pressure.

The two-part review will look at Mr Farage’s case specifically, including whether the bank broke data protection rules by briefing the BBC that he had fallen below its wealth limit.

Independent lawyers will then look at a sample of other account closures at Coutts over the past two years to assess the reasons behind them.

Travers Smith and NatWest have both been approached for comment.

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