Call for probe into RBS lunch

A CAPITAL businessman has called on the First Minister to investigate a “wasteful” lunch for Royal Bank of Scotland staff held at a four-star luxury hotel.

The 57-year-old managing director and an RBS shareholder, said he was irked to see up to 80 bank staff tucking into a three-course meal at the Norton House Hotel & Spa in Ingliston on Thursday – one mile from their multi-million pound Gogarburn headquarters.

He has now urged Alex Salmond to make inquiries into what he deems to be unnecessary expenditure on a lunch and conference space, especially given the volume of city offices owned by the bank.

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RBS, 83 per cent-owned by the taxpayer after a government bail-out in 2008, has said costs were “kept to a minimum” and they had tried to host the training event at Gogarburn but “couldn’t get an appropriate facility on the dates required”.

The businessman argues that with an abundance of RBS buildings in the Capital it is inconceivable the function could not be kept in-house.

“I have sent Alex Salmond an e-mail about this and asked him to look into it,” he said.

“If a room wasn’t available on certain date then I would have thought there were plenty of other dates they could chose.”

“There’s a saying: save a penny, save a pound, and it really upset me because their headquarters are only a mile away and within two miles there’s Drummond House, and in the city centre St Andrew Square.

“Surely they should have been able to find a venue within their organisation somewhere in Edinburgh.”

The man told the Evening News he spotted the lunching bank staff while at the plush hotel with his wife.

“We had been in Edinburgh and stopped off for lunch at the Norton House Hotel on the way home. It’s not the cheapest hotel either, they could have picked many other places that were cheaper.

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“When I saw them having lunch there I was blazing [angry] because I’m a shareholder with the bank and lost a lot of money from them.”

He added: “I even saw some members of staff with champagne. With the state the country is in and all the cutbacks last year, it’s just unbelievable.

“Everyone in this country is a shareholder in RBS. As long as they owe money to the country they should not be spending money on this.

A spokesperson for RBS said: “We are focused on serving our customers and staff training is an important part of that. We always ensure costs are appropriate.”