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October 19, 2004

'Debt Pressures Led to Deaf Man's Suicide'

From: The Scotsman, UK - Oct 19, 2004

By Graham Hiscott, Consumer Affairs Correspondent, PA News

A deaf man is thought to have committed suicide after building up debts of £15,000 on credit cards and a personal loan, a committee of MPs heard today.

The 21-year-old managed to borrow the money from four different sources despite being a seasonal worker at the time of his death.

MPs were told how high street bank Halifax, one of those who loaned cash to the unnamed man from north-east Norfolk, employed debt collectors to recover the money even after his death in August this year.

The tragic case emerged during evidence to the influential Treasury Committee which is investigating credit card charges and marketing.

Norman Lamb, Liberal Democrat MP for North Norfolk, told the hearing about the death of his constituent.

"A 21-year-old lad took his own life when he was £15,000 in debt," he explained.

"His father feels convinced that the size of the debt was part of the pressure that he was under and he feels passionately about the need to lend responsibly.

"In this case he had been in all sorts of problems with a Halifax credit card and was then given a personal loan by the Halifax."

He added: "The father notified the Halifax but the debt collectors have continued to send letters and interest has continued."

James Crosby, chief executive of Halifax parent company HBOS, was giving evidence at the hearing.

Referring to the case, he said: "It is far from what we would expect. We will look at our performance in the wider area."

No inquest has yet taken place into the man's death.