During today's treasury committee meeting, the former heads of our banks finally said they were sorry.
It was a deeply unsatisfactory admission. It wasn't an acknowledgement of true remorse; it had an evasive quality. The bankers accepted a vague culpability but declined to pinpoint exactly what they did wrong. It was the old Albert Speer defence; "Yes, in general, I am guilty; but I didn't actually know of any wrong-doing". Moreover, the apology was tinged with a degree of self-pity. The bankers were not slow to tell us that they too lost money.
Nevertheless, the apology achieved its objective; it deflated the committee. These bankers were far too smooth and slippery. The MPs were weak on the specifics. Overall, it was a disappointing performance from our elected officials.
The only moment of potential excitement came when George Mudie MP, claimed that the the board of HBOS sacked an executive, who four years ago warned the HBOS board that the bank was taking excessive risks. Subsequently, he took HBOS to an industrial tribunal and was paid off after winning the case.
Nevertheless, Lord Stevenson, the former HBOS chairman, managed to wiggle out of it. With a confident voice, he declared he "remembered the incident" very well, that the board took it all very seriously. He then craftily pointed the finger at the FSA, telling the committee that the matter was closed to the satisfaction of the regulator.
So, the bankers get away yet again.