The independent action group for current and ex Equitable Life policyholders, funded by contributions.

Equitable Members Action Group

Equitable Members Action Group Limited, a company limited by guarantee, number 5471535 registered in the UK

Media Stories: 15/03/2007 - Government launches appeal High Court ruling

Government launches appeal High Court ruling

by Jenna Towler, Professional Pensions 15-03-2007

THE GOVERNMENT has launched an appeal against last month’s Pensions Action Group judicial review victory.

Last month a High Court judge ruled work and pensions secretary John Hutton acted unlawfully when he rejected the parliamentary ombudsman’s report into failed occupational pensions.

The judge ruled the government had misled the public when it published information assuring people their occupational pensions were safe – but gave leave to appeal against the ruling.

A DWP spokesman confirmed a new legal challenge had been launched.

He said: "We have appealed the finding of maladministration because the judgment raises important constitutional issues which need to be resolved.

"This appeal will not prevent us from reconsidering the ombudsman's recommendation with regard to compensation in line with the High Court's direction.

"We have real sympathy for people who lost their pensions when their schemes went into wind-up, and appreciate that they need to know where they stand.

"The secretary of state said last month that his aim is to return to Parliament with conclusions and proposals before the end of proceedings of the Pensions Bill.

"That remains the case and would not be affected by the outcome of this appeal.”

Liberal Democrat pensions spokesman David Laws said: “Those who have been waiting years for fair pensions compensation will be furious to see the Government contesting the maladministration finding.

“This means yet more delay for the tens of thousand of citizens who lost their occupational pensions after receiving potentially misleading information from the government.

“The government should now fairly compensate those who lost their pensions, rather than wasting yet more taxpayers’ money appealing this decision.

“This matter must be resolved before the report stage of the Pensions Bill in the House of Commons.”

Leading PAG campaigner Ros Altmann said: “This is the worst pensions scandal in the UK has ever seen. Today is the anniversary of the ombudsman’s report and we are nowhere.

“The men who went to court are feeling terrible, they have no confidence in society.”