The FCA should be more open about its plan to cut compensation for victims of its mistakes

When Arthur Dent wanted to view the consultation papers on his house’s demolition, he eventually found them in the council’s “display department”.

They were, to quote the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy star, “in a basement with no lights in the bottom of a filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying ‘Beware of the Leopard’.”

The Financial Conduct Authority’s paperpushers are clearly Douglas Adams fans.

For when they wanted to cap the compensation they pay out to people who lose money to fraudsters due to their negligence, they kept the consultation very quiet.

Not only did they launch it in the summer holidays, but they set it for a mere eight weeks while the nation has been somewhat distracted by the biggest pandemic in living memory.

The FCA knows a bit about the chaos wrought on our lives by Covid. It’s the reason the regulator gave for dragging its feet on responding to the probe into its failure to stop the London Capital & Finance affair.

That inquiry, and two others into scandals the FCA might have prevented, are still ongoing.

And there’s another reason it should not be consulting on compo caps now: who knows how many people may be shown to have valid claims against it over LCF, Connaught and HBOS Reading?

Today, those regular FCA baiters the True & Fair Campaign say they smell a big, fat rat.

They have written to the Treasury Select Committee demanding the consultation be investigated.

The FCA says it merely wants to simplify the complaints scheme’s wording to make it easier to use. So, it would just be a coincidence that payouts will be restricted to £10,000, then.

Let’s have the select committee MPs shine a light in the FCA’s basement. And throw a net over that leopard.