A man who moved abroad after leaving thousands of pounds in a bank account 32 years ago is now locked in a battle to get it back.

George Athanasi, who lives in Wightman Road, Hornsey, opened an account in the Neasden branch of Barclays Bank with $5,000 in 1991.

He moved to Cyprus in 1993 after paying a bill and a cheque to Neasden Council - and forgot about the account for more than 20 years.

The UK-born dad has a Greek Cypriot background and also lived in Switzerland and travelled widely before returning to north London.

Now 59 and diagnosed with lung cancer, he is accusing Barclays Bank of giving him "the runaround”.

He first tried to track his money down after moving back to the UK in 2017 for an artery operation on his thigh. Then living in Enfield, he went to the Barclays there and explained he had an account that might be dormant.

"It was like I was trying to rob them and asking them for something that wasn't mine,” he said.

"It took them a long time and I kept going to the Enfield branch, but they said there was no trace.”

He said the issue has been "niggling" him ever since, and now he is ill unwell he needs the cash.

Mr Athanasi's biggest obstacle is that he has no evidence of ever having an account - any cheque book, stubs or receipts long lost.

After getting advice from a lawyer he has got in touch with the Financial Ombudsman and hopes to hear back in September.

He added: "If Barclays closed the account, there must be some kind of record. It shouldn't cost the earth or do they close the account and put the money in their pocket? They are giving me the runaround."

Barclays website states that an account is considered dormant when it has been inactive for 15 years or more. After this time the bank may transfer balances of dormant accounts to Reclaim Fund Ltd, but account holders can still reclaim it, with the bank handling the claims and managing the process.

A Barclays spokesperson said: "After careful investigation, unfortunately we can’t find any records matching Mr Athanasi’s name and date of birth in our systems – this includes our record of closed and dormant accounts.

"We’d be happy to reopen our investigation if we receive further information or documentation."

To enquire about lost and dormant accounts at Barclays visit: www.barclays.co.uk/current-accounts/dormant-lost-accounts