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Last Updated: Wednesday, 21 February 2007, 10:11 GMT
Why we went to the High Court
The High Court in London, in a judicial review, has ruled in favour of four people who lost all or part of their pensions when their pension schemes went bust.

THE LOST PENSIONS
85,000 people were affected
400 schemes closed with deficits
They were shut between 1997 and 2005
Only limited compensation is available from the Financial Assistance Scheme
The Pension Protection Fund only covers schemes from April 2005

The review challenged the government's rejection of a report by the Parliamentary Ombudsman, Ann Abraham.

Last year she called on the government to compensate people who had lost money when their pension schemes went under, accusing the government of maladministration and injustice.

The four people whose cases were heard in the High Court told the BBC their stories.

BOB DUNCAN

Bob Duncan (in the middle with glasses and white hair)
The group took on the government at the High Court

I am 64 and I've worked for the Royal Mail for the last four years in Jarrow. But for 36 years I worked for the British United Shoe Machine company in Leicester, until it went into liquidation in 2000.

There was enough money to pay pensioners, but nothing for people who had not retired. It was fully funded to the government's Minimum Funding Requirement (MFR), but that meant nothing.

Out of a fund of 30m, paying the existing pensioners took 28m. So 300 deferred pensioners have lost out. I had saved 25,000 in additional voluntary contributions. And I was expecting to get just under 10,000 a year at 65.

The last I heard, I'd got nothing. At the moment, it looks like I may have lost everything. It's getting worse now. When it happened, I was 58 and I was pretty fit. I was put on night shifts, for the first time in my life, at the age of 61, for six months. I'm off that, but I'm not sleeping well at the moment. I'm absolutely knackered.

My state pension will be 109 a week. It's not much. I used to worry about paying the mortgage when interest rates went up. But there's not much point worrying now.

ANDREW PARR

Andrew Parr
Andrew Parr

I'm now a process control engineer at a steel plant in the Isle of Sheppey in Kent. At my age, it's getting a bit hard work. I lost about 60% of 22 years of pension. At the time the company (ASW) went bust, five years ago, I was 59.

I was expecting to get about 15,500 a year at age 62. Then we were told we would get as little as 40% of our pensions - about 7,000 for me.

I developed a heart condition about the time this was happening, probably caused by the stress. It was an incredibly stressful experience. It really is heartbreaking. I thought I would retire, but I've had to go back to work until I'm 65. My eventual pension will get progressively worse as it will have no inflation indexing.

For the last five years, this has totally dominated my life. It becomes the sole thing you think about. You wake up in the middle of the night, you sit on the train, you try to read a newspaper, and you think about your lost pension. Everything you do, the lost pension impinges on it and it takes away your peace of mind.

HENRY BRADLEY

Richardson's - Irish Fertiliser Industries
Henry Bradley worked at the Richardson's (Irish Fertiliser Industries) plant in Belfast

I'm 64 and I live in Belfast, unemployed at the minute. When our firm, Richardson's fertiliser, closed in 2002, I was made redundant.

As far as I was concerned, the pension was safe. We had been told in 1998 that the pensions were guaranteed. Then we got the word the pensions weren't safe. We were told we would be lucky to get 25% as it only had enough to pay existing pensioners, not those who were not of pensionable age.

My pension should have been 8,400 a year. Now I will only get a quarter of that, about 40 a week. I was bewildered and then anger set in. If I had known my pension was in danger, I would have done something about it.

I was starting to wind down for retirement and using my savings to improve the house. If I had known my pension was not safe, I would not have done that and kept my savings instead.

TOM WAUGH

I'm now 67 and live near Tamworth in Staffordshire. I worked for an agricultural machinery company called Burgess Agricultural Engineers from 1978 until I retired in 2004 at 65. But in 2000 the company stated winding up the scheme, over 10 years.

I expected to get 7,200, even in wind-up. In reality I'm getting 2,700 as the trustees can only pay out a minimal figure while wind-up is going on. I hadn't twigged there would be a huge shortfall. The pensioners who had already retired came top of the pecking order.

The company itself is still solvent. So under the rules, those of us in this position cannot make a claim on the FAS. If the government was forced to uphold the Ombudsman's recommendations, we would expect to be swept into whatever scheme was contrived to compensate us.

I have had to find work to make good the shortfall, driving heavy goods vehicles at night, door-to-door canvassing and so on. The stress does creep up on you.



SEE ALSO
High Court victory for pensioners
21 Feb 07 |  Business
EU rules on bust pension schemes
25 Jan 07 |  Business
MPs urging pensions compensation
30 Jul 06 |  UK Politics
Ombudsman angry with government
13 Jul 06 |  UK Politics
Government rejects pension payout
06 Jun 06 |  Business
Government rejects pension ruling
15 Mar 06 |  Business

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