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Purnell dragging out pension fight to Lords

Three Court of Appeal judges have upheld a ruling that the Government was guilty of misleading 125,000 people about the safety of their pensions.

The court has confirmed the original judicial review victory for the 125,000 people who lost their occupational pensions when their company schemes were wound up.

The judges dismissed the Work and Pensions Secretary’s appeal against the High Court ruling that “no reasonable Secretary of State could rationally disagree” with the Parliamentary Ombudsman.

The judges confirmed that the rejection of the Parliamentary Ombudsman’s findings was irrational and unlawful. They said that the DWP must accept it caused injustices which went beyond just financial losses.

The judgment states that the Government’s maladministration also led to distress, anxiety, uncertainty and lost opportunities to make informed choices about their pensions.

Work and Pensions Secretary James Purnell intends to appeal against the decision in the House of Lords.

Parliamentary Ombudsman Ann Abraham found the Government guilty of maladministration in March 2006, which the Government rejected.

This led to campaigners mounting a judicial review against the Government’s decision to reject the ombudsman’s findings. In February 2007, the judicial review found against the Government.

Pension campaigner Ros Altmann says: “We warmly welcome this judgment, which yet again vindicates our arguments and confirms that the Government misled trusting citizens about the security of their pension savings.

“But we are astonished that the Secretary of State, James Purnell, wants to appeal to the House of Lords. How many verdicts will it take to make the Government see sense?

“This attitude merely reinforces the High Court and Court of Appeal verdicts that the Government’s decisions in this matter are irrational. For the past few years, it has tried unsuccessfully to wear us down and even tried to bully the victims into submission by threatening to bankrupt them if they lost the case.”

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