According to the television executive Michael Grade non-executive directors are like bidets – no-one is sure what exactly they are for, but they add a touch of class.
Shareholders in Lloyds and RBS will get their day in court. That will at least enable them to vent their frustrations and further expose the stupidity of the boards and executives who presided over the catastrophic drops in the value of their investments, but both actions are likely to result in pyrrhic victories.
We now know what the price of failure is for the CEO of a wrecked bank. Fred Goodwin at RBS set the tariff: a lost knighthood and a third off the pension. Now James Crosby at HBOS has fallen into line. But what should happen to the chairmen?