An anti-capitalist group calling itself Bank Bosses Are Criminals has claimed responsibility for an attack on the home of Sir Fred Goodwin, former chief executive of the Royal Bank of Scotland.
The organisation warned of further action against other targets minutes after police were called to Sir Fred’s house in Edinburgh. Officers were alerted by an alarm, which was set off when three downstairs windows were smashed. A black Mercedes parked in the courtyard was also damaged in the attack, which happened about 4.30am.
Sir Fred, who has attracted political and public criticism for his role in the bank’s downfall and his insistence on keeping his pension, was not at home. Neighbours said that he had not been seen for weeks and it is believed that he may be overseas after taking his children out of their local private school.
His family home is in the Grange, an affluent suburb, and a large number of his fellow residents will have lost money in the financial crash. Yesterday many told The Times that they were upset by the “greed” of the man nicknamed Fred the Shred for his eagerness to cut jobs and costs. One woman in her 70s, who gave her name as Deirdre, said: “People should not go round breaking windows, but I can understand why if they have lost their jobs. It is not right, but I can understand why they would do it.
Well done, Gordon, for whipping up public hatred against a private citizen
“I have an account with RBS in Marchmont. It’s not the fault of the young people who work with RBS that this has happened. I don’t understand how people can be so greedy with everything. If I won the lottery, I would just pay off my four kids’ mortgages. What can you do with that kind of money [Sir Fred’s pension pot]?”
John Llewelyn, a neighbour who is retired, said: “My wife and I are seeing an independent financial adviser together and we have suddenly realised our investments and savings have been dramatically affected, like everyone’s. We put Sir Fred in that context. He is part of the story. We can’t help feeling that way. It is upsetting.”
Mr Llewelyn said that the only other incident that he was aware of at the large, detached house was when a bunch of flowers was left in the garden and police were alerted in case it was suspicious. He said that security personnel had been parked in the area overnight regularly throughout the past year and some residents had complained that their engines could be heard turning over in the early hours. Another neighbour said that one security officer had told her that the Goodwins seemed very aloof and had not even offered them a cup of tea.
Another resident, Maggie Anderson, who was walking past the Goodwin home on her way to the shop, said she was surprised that it had not been attacked before.
There have been some protests outside the house since it emerged that Sir Fred had negotiated a £16.9 million pension package and had no intention of giving it back. Banners posted outside condemned him as a “scumbag millionaire”.
About 30 reporters and photographers congregated outside Sir Fred’s house throughout yesterday morning and motorists and passers-by slowed to stare at the house. One man in a waxed jacked suggested that the best course of action would be to “burn it to the ground”. Two scenes-of-crime officers from the Scottish Police Services Authority, uniformed officers and two detectives picked over the debris, which included three broken windows on the bottom floor of the three-storey house. One pane of the double-glazed bay window in the lounge was smashed and the other bore the imprint of a missile.
In the courtyard – which is between the Goodwin home and the neighbouring detached house, which Sir Fred also owns – the black Mercedes S600 was parked. Small cracks were visible in the rear window, front windscreen and a passenger door window. It was reported this week that RBS was still paying the insurance on his fleet of executive cars.
Joiners and glaziers were working on the property and a tow truck came to take away the car.
The pale brick property, which has a grass tennis court, triple garage and children’s play area, is equipped with a model of a Victorian streetlamp with concealed cameras. Lights and sensors are attached to a tree in the front garden. Lothian and Borders Police said that officers were acquiring CCTV footage and carrying out door-to-door inquiries in the neighbourhood.
A spokesman said: “Our inquiries are at an early stage and we are appealing for anyone with information about this incident to contact us. We are aware that an organisation claiming to be responsible for the vandalism had made contact with media outlets and this also forms part of our inquiry. The force takes very seriously any planned attack on any individual or their property.”
He said that the owner of the house had been contacted. He said that the force “routinely gives personal safety advice to members of the public and to anyone who may feel vulnerable for whatever reason” but refused to say whether Sir Fred had asked.