Defined Benefit  

British Steel adviser accused of making threats

British Steel adviser accused of making threats

The director of the first advice firm to stop conducting British Steel pension transfers has revealed he did not show up at a Work and Pensions select committee hearing due to alleged threats made against him.

Darren Reynolds, director of Active Wealth, said he had opted to stay away from the MPs hearing last year because Alistair Rush, principal at Rutland-based Echelon Wealthcare, said in a Tweet: "I love the idea of client feedback in the Palace of Westminster car park."

Both Mr Reynolds and Mr Rush, who provided guidance to steelworkers and was critical of advisers only pushing transfers out of the defined benefit scheme, had been expected to give oral evidence to the committee inquiry on the British Steel Pension Scheme (BSPS) on 13 December.

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But FTAdviser can reveal Mr Rush's invitation to give evidence was withdrawn after Mr Reynolds claimed the Tweet about feedback in a car park amounted to an incitement to violence.

A lawyer for Mr Reynolds said that as a result of serious concerns over Mr Reynolds' safety, Mr Reynolds informed the Work and Pensions committee of what he considered to be violent threats made against him by Mr Rush.

She added: "As a result, the Work and Pensions committee confirmed on 1 December that Mr Rush's invitation to give evidence had been rescinded.

"They advised that there would be a police [officer] presence at Parliament, however, no guarantees were given as regards [to] Mr Reynolds safety and therefore he made the decision not to attend or take the risk of being subjected to violence by other attendees."

FTAdviser reported in November that several steelworkers appeared to be transferring out their pensions after being lured by cheap deals by unregulated introducer firm Celtic Wealth Management & Financial Planning, which then referred the clients to advice firm Active Wealth.

Several sources have said Celtic was present at several roadshows from the scheme trustees, which were attended by members wanting more clarifications about their pensions and proposing to them a flat fee of £1,500 to arrange their defined benefit transfers.

Both Mr Reynolds and Clive Howells, managing director of Celtic Wealth Management, didn't turn up for the December hearing.

Around 130,000 steelworkers had to choose to move their defined benefit (DB) pension pots to a new plan being created, BSPS II, or stay in the current fund, which would be moved to the Pension Protection Fund (PPF), by 22 December.

Of the total members, 43,000 were deferred, which meant transferring out their pension was also an option for them.

Labour MP Frank Field said at the time that he was surprised that Mr Reynolds and Mr Howells chose, at late notice, not to take up the invitation of the committee he chairs "to put their side of the story in a public forum".

Mr Rush confirmed that he wouldn't be attending the hearing, in a second tweet. He said that in light of the "jokey comment", the committee had withdrawn the invitation to offer oral evidence.