(Corrects factual error in third paragraph) UK – A member of parliament for the ruling Labour party has questioned David Laverick, the Pensions Ombudsman, over his determinations in pension complaints against computer firm IBM.
Last October the Ombudsman rejected a series of complaints against IBM brought by scheme members – but now West Renfrewshire MP Jim Sheridan is calling for more scrutiny of what he calls the “IBM affair”.
Sheridan has written to Laverick, questioning whether it is true that special legal investigator Sarah Jacobs resigned her investigation before it was reallocated to Laverick himself.
And he also asked whether it was true that Laverick had expressed the view that he was probably wrong to think he could complete the work personally.
Sheridan wrote that IBM scheme members have suggested that the determination shows it was wrong to put such a complex legal case in the hands of an investigator “with little experience of pensions law and inadequate spare time for proper investigation”.
Sheridan wrote: “I am tending to the view that the IBM affair deserves more scrutiny but I am reluctant to accept the IBM scheme member's view without more confirmation of facts.”
Laverick, who in July last year complained to the government that he does not have the staff or IT equipment to deal properly with complaints, declined to comment. He would neither confirm nor deny whether he had received Sheridan’s letter.
Sheridan’s office confirmed that Laverick had replied but declined to describe the response.
Sheridan also put it to Laverick that members believe the “extreme delay” in arriving at a determination had prejudiced the outcome.
The complaints – with the Ombudsman for four years - had ranged from “an appeal to the consciences of those responsible” to charges that the trustees supplied too little information and that inter-scheme transfers were illegal. Another complaint claimed the trustees were working to a wrong principle.