FINANCIAL watchdogs are to investigate malicious rumours that HBOS, one of Britain's leading banks, is run by filthy Scotsmen.
Shares in the bank plunged yesterday after unscrupulous traders claimed the 'S' in HBOS stood for 'Scotland' and that the bank had been taken over by a gang of 'arseholed Glaswegians'.
Julian Cook, a senior trader at Donnelly-McPartlin, said: "After I'd dumped £220 million worth of stock, my first thought was for the poor people at HBOS, having to cope with all those awful Scotsmen." He added: "It's worse than having a bank run by Geordies."
A spokesman for the Financial Services Authority said: "It is deeply irresponsible to suggest that a major British bank is run by dirty Scotsmen. As everyone knows the 'S' stands for 'Sheffield'.
"HBOS is run by square-jawed Yorkshiremen, who go to church every Sunday and whose cheeks are red from long, character-building walks in the Pennines and vigorous games of rugby league."
Despite official reassurances some HBOS customers have withdrawn their savings, terrified at the prospect of it being touched by stinking, foul-mouthed Glaswegians.
Alice Peters, a teacher from Swindon, said: "Oh my God, they'll steal all my money and spend it on strong lager, deep fried confectionery and sporran wax."
Tom Logan, a retired policeman from Watford, said: "I was worried the branch manager would grab me by the lapels, breathe vodka and Coke all over me, then put his arm round my neck and force me to sing We Are Sailing."
An HBOS spokesman said: "Och, dinnae be a big clootie. There's nae Scotsmen here, apart from yon laddie who cleans oot the bogs."