HSBC has confirmed it has no policy discriminating against shooting, and has offered its services to businesses it had previously rejected, following an intervention by the Countryside Alliance.
Having heard rumours that HSBC were declining services to businesses associated with shooting, the Countryside Alliance contacted one affected business to confirm what was happening. We found that at least one customer had been informed that shooting was considered a “prohibited sport” and as such services had been denied. The business had written to the bank to complain but had received no response.
Countryside Alliance CEO Tim Bonner wrote to Douglas Flint, the Chairman of HSBC UK, to raise our urgent concerns. In the letter, Tim pointed out the value of game shooting to the UK economy and the importance of shooting sports to millions of participants and asked if a policy discriminating against participants was in place at HSBC. Mr Flint responded very quickly to tell the us that no such policy existed and committing to look into the cases we had raised. Having investigated, HSBC found that their policies were indeed being misapplied, causing shooting businesses to be unfairly denied access to services. Mr Flint told us that HSBC would be ensuring that shooting clients would not be penalised in the future, and that they would be contacting the shooting businesses affected to date. We subsequently verified that this contact had been made.
Countryside Alliance CEO Tim Bonner said: “We are very grateful to Mr Flint for moving so quickly to address this issue. It would clearly be outrageous to restrict services to shooting businesses, given how important they are to the UK economy and how popular shooting sports have always been, and we were very pleased that this apparent conflict turned out to be a misunderstanding. The Countryside Alliance will always stand up for the shooting community wherever it is challenged.”