Home Personal Finance Norton Motorcycles: Regulator apologises to pension scandal victims

Norton Motorcycles: Regulator apologises to pension scandal victims

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  • By Will Jefford
  • BBC News, Leicester

Image caption,

Stuart Garner appeared to have successfully revived the Norton brand, but it went into administration

The impact on people who lost their savings in the Norton Motorcycles pension scheme collapse has been devastating, a regulator said.

Tony Raymond, general counsel at The Pensions Regulator, apologised to victims of the scheme run by Stuart Garner.

Garner breached pensions regulations by investing more of people’s money in his business than was allowed.

The Pension Protection Fund said those who lost money would be paid back.

Garner ran the motorcycle firm from 2008 until it went bust in January 2020.

His business was given millions of pounds by the government and was endorsed by MPs, but 227 members lost money after investing in three pension schemes, of which Garner was trustee.

Norton Motorcycles was bought out of administration in April 2020 and is now a separate business under new ownership.

‘Uncomfortable’ situation

Speaking to the work and pensions committee in Westminster on Wednesday, Mr Raymond apologised to those who lost money.

The body – which is in place to make sure that workplace pension schemes are run properly – approved the scheme, despite it being linked to a company it had previously suspended for its involvement in another scheme.

“It’s fair to say that the impact that this case has had on the individuals of this scheme has been utterly devastating,” Mr Raymond said.

“If we could turn the clock back and do it differently, yes we would, is the simple answer. To that extent, I obviously apologise.

“Looking at the situation now, it obviously feels uncomfortable.

“I can’t get around that. But, I can recall at the time we had a very high volume of cases that were even more egregious.”

Image source, Norton Motorcycles

Image caption,

Former chancellor George Osborne once visited Norton Motorcycles to announce a £4m government investment

Mr Raymond said that, at the time of the scheme’s registration, it was not practice for the body to run checks to ensure pension providers were legitimate.

The committee heard the regulator was sent a whistleblowing report in 2013, which it passed on to Action Fraud – the national fraud reporting service – but did not investigate the pension scheme itself.

The regulator said the issue “was not prioritised” due to the large number of cases it was dealing with.

A formal investigation was launched in 2017 when a second report was sent by a whistleblower.

Garner was later found to have “acted dishonestly and in breach of his duty” following an investigation by The Pensions Ombudsman.

He was given a suspended sentence over the missing pensions cash in 2022.

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