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BBC Panorama on Sipps pulled after bribery allegations


A BBC Panorama programme investigating overseas property Sipp investments has been pulled due to allegations of bribery by a BBC producer.

The Great Savings Wipe Out was due to air at 8.30pm on Monday but was withdrawn from the schedule last Thursday.

The Times reports that a BBC producer emailed Harlequin consultant Sean Ghent offering future work with Panorama. He has now been suspended and a disciplinary procedure is under way.

The e-mail said: “Panorama and the BBC is [sic] always using security and protection officers and although I cannot guarantee anything we may be able to put things your way. Or we could work together on stories. It’s always good to keep one eye on the future! How would you feel helping me out in a totally confidential way.”

The Times reports that Harlequin wrote to the BBC litigation department branding the email “simply staggering”.

The letter said: “It appears to constitute a flagrant and in our view highly improper attempt by [the journalist] to induce Mr Ghent into disclosing information about Harlequin in return for the pot

The BBC said: “In light of information received late in the production process of this film the BBC decided to postpone broadcast. We are currently reviewing the facts. As a result a member of the team has been suspended and a disciplinary procedure is under way.”


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There are 12 comments at the moment, we would love to hear your opinion too.

  1. Say what you want about Carter-Ruck (Harlequin’s lawyers), they get the job done.

    (Disclaimer: do not say what you want about Carter-Ruck)

  2. RegulatorSaurusRex 28th March 2013 at 9:14 am


    By which appendage?

    BTW, as far as I am aware none of my colleagues have been suspended, ever.

  3. It will be a very interesting programme, I hope it covers ALL the bases.

  4. Who can you trust nowadays?
    This programme was eagerly awaited. I am really dissapointed that it was not aired.
    There are ex IFA’s (post RDR) still providing advice on these alternative investments, probably misleading their clients on the risks assosiated, and transferring pension pots into SIPPs. These people make huge commissions at the expence of the punter, who expect that their pension pot is secure.

  5. I was looking forward to seeing this programme because there is a story to be told. Unfortunately this claim just muddies the waters and delays the information being placed before the wider public.

  6. The wider public? The wider public dont know what a SIPP is or what it is for. It should be only for sophisticated investers who know what they want to do. Look at what teh S stands for. Anyone who goes into these knows the risks involved and cant complain if it goes tits up. Hell slap it up them. These people are greedy individuals trying to do it themselves and should just take the hit when it goes wrong. End of.

  7. Marty old chap you appear a damaged individual, or maybe a bitter and jealous underperformer. People with REAL money don’t need pensions. Ordinary people investing for their retirement and security for their family invest in SIPPS. Responsible people that don’t just fire their vitriol from the hip, but are considered in their actions.

  8. Marty, A good adviser is not afraid to tell a client when they are doing something that is clearly not in their interest, this is particularly true for investors seeking high rates of return. What you are incorrectly stating is that just because a client chooses to hold a SIPP it absolves the adviser from responsible investment advice.

    Now if a client has chosen to invest in Harlequin I would expect that same adviser to have done the due diligence on the investment and any letter if the due diligence comes back with a clear indication that a client shouldn’t do the investment, then the adviser should give a recommendation to the client not to go ahead, if the client chooses then to go ahead, the adviser has a clear letter showing that he has done his job.

    I suspect that advisers that have set up SIPPS for clients to invest in this type of investment have not done this and as far as I’m concerned they deserve to lose their licenses. I for one am totally fed up of paying for the minority of advisers who choose to get involved in this type of transaction and leave the remainder of us picking up the pieces and paying higher FSCS fees.

    If your comment above is true, and you really do believe clients taking out SIPPs through IFA’s should not at least receive basic investment advice and warnings, then please leave before you do anymore harm.

  9. I agree with many of the comments above – this issue (and the broader situation where non-regulated advisers are selling UCIS whether in a SIPP or not) needs to be spelled out to the wider public – along with pension unlocking…..

  10. I may induce him to release infomation.

    However, it doesn’t make it any less useful information. SIPPS are the latest misselling scandal waiting to break. They are wholly inappropriate for most people who never alter their holdings and pay outrageous fees.

    The BBC should go ahead with the programme.

  11. I understand and sympathise with what Marty is saying, but agree with ST to a point except the written report signed by a client is NOT worth the paper it is written on when it comes to the FOS as perhaps rightly so they may say what the client was told differs to what was put inn the report. This is why the FSA say a report in a durable medium, which CAN include a verbatim record of what wads said at the meeting both parties.

  12. When will the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth come out about Harlequin and similar type SIPP Investments.

    All the time the Lawyers and other institutions keep stopping these concerns coming out, the more clients will suffer and in the long term lose their future retirement benefits, which of course they can ill afford.

    Also the longer it takes the more damage to our industry, as the scandal and compensation will be greater, especially with the amount of commission received from potentially both the SIPP and property sale!!

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