May 25, 2024

Campaign against retirement leasehold exploitation / Bottomley demand Cameron calls meeting with Housing and Justice over OFT / Peverel price-fixing scandal

Demands that the Office of Fair Trading account for its supine leniency agreement with Peverel over the price-fixing scandal have now reached the attention of the prime minister.

Number 10 is suggesting the issue be examined by a minister of the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.

Sir Peter Bottomley, backed by Cabinet minister Ed Davey, is insisting on the involvement of the Ministry of Justice and the Housing minister.

Sir Peter has also made clear that he does not accept that the OFT were only aware of the price-fixing scam run by Cirrus when alerted by Peverel in December 2009.

This argument by the OFT is particularly feeble as the Times newspaper reported the bogus tendering process in detail on December 4 2009.

Ed Davey can also demonstrate that he alerted the OFT to Peverel’s cartel operations before December 2009.

A significant number of MPs and ministers are now aware of the Peverel price-fixing scandal.

Campaign against retirement leasehold exploitation readers are urged to contact their MP to insist that the OFT now account for their extraordinary leniency deal with Peverel in a meeting with Justice and Housing.

Copy all correspondence to Sir Peter Bottomley:

Below is the letter sent by Sebastian O’Kelly to David Cameron, alerting him to this issue:


July 12 2013

OFT offers “leniency” to Peverel in three-year investigation reported by Campaign against retirement leasehold exploitation whistleblowers, even though there has been “possible criminal behaviour involving Peverel” (Sir Peter Bottomley)

Dear Mr Cameron,

I write to ask whether you will advise the Ministry of Justice and the Department of Communities and Local Government to hold a joint briefing on this scandal in retirement housing.

The Office of Fair Trading is accusing the property management company Peverel of running a price-fixing scam over door-entry and warden call systems. Bogus tendering against stooge companies (which have now folded) resulted in contracts at inflated prices being awarded to Peverel’s own subsidiary, Cirrus.

The scam operated between 2005-2009, the OFT claims. It is giving Peverel the benefit of its “leniency policy” and immunity from its sanctions because it turned itself in to the OFT in December 2009.

This is outrageous. Sir Peter Bottomley believes that there was “possible criminal behaviour involving Peverel” and has stated that he does not believe Peverel contacted the OFT before these issues were already raised by Campaign against retirement leasehold exploitation members.

In November 2009 more than 100 Campaign against retirement leasehold exploitation pensioners attended a meeting at the Palace of Westminster, organized by Ed Davey, and there was extensive media coverage. This included articles in The Times on September 26, November 7 and December 5 (the latter specifically relating to the bogus tendering of Cirrus and providing examples: each development may have been scammed £20,000 in this process).

In addition, one of the three Campaign against retirement leasehold exploitation whistleblowers contacted the Serious Fraud Office via email on December 16 2009 providing a dossier of evidence.

The OFT had been inundated with complaints regarding retirement leasehold, although the whistleblowers contacted the OFT in January 2010 with their detailed complaint about Cirrus.

They have been assisting this absurdly protracted investigation, which they were asked to keep confidential, until the OFT made it public last Friday.

Understandably, they feel utterly suckered by the OFT now offering immunity to Peverel for its actions on the grounds that it contacted the OFT a matter of weeks before they reported it in detail.

Why on earth should Peverel be dealt with leniently by the OFT for cheating pensioners who – thanks to the opportunities of leasehold and the authorities’ torpor – are such easy prey?

Shouldn’t Mr Prisk (your housing minister) be concerned that the retirement housing market is virtually static (thank goodness, in our view, given the endemic cheating)?

Retirement leasehold values are 40-50 per cent off peak and only 1,600 flats were built last year (according to McCarthy and Stone).

Pensioners in retirement leasehold have largely lost confidence in civil society’s willingness – or capacity – to do anything about these issues.

You are aware of some of this from your own involvement in Windrush Court in Burford.

Three million people in this country live in leasehold flats. A significant number are being systematically ripped off.

When a serious, well documented complaint by articulate professionals is made to the authorities, the complainants are then betrayed by the OFT which – after three years! – cooks up a leniency deal with the perpetrators of these rip-offs.

These scandals, which have stalled an important sector of the housing market, require your attention.

Yours sincerely,


Sebastian O’Kelly





  1. It will be very interesting to see if Mr Cameron does anything about this whole fiasco or whether he chooses to ignore it and hope it will go away…….
    If he is hoping it will go away he has 3 million or so voters that will vote with their feet at the next general election…….. and we are not just talking about retirement leaseholders…..
    Mr Cameron/Mr Prisk are you listening????

    • Karen/Michael/Sebastian/OMhostage/ollie/Trevor/Campaign against retirement leasehold exploitation
      I will be passing this comment on to our 28 residents and as we have a meeting soon it can be discussed further then and we can also contact David Cameron.

      Has anyone heard about the Deferred Prosecution Agreements which is in Draft Form and is a combined effort between the Director of The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) and the Director of Public Prosecution (DPAs). They are inviting comments by 20/09/13.

      A prosecutor charges a company with a criminal offence but proceedings are automatically suspended. The company agrees to a number of conditions:-
      1. Financial Penalty
      2. Payment of Compensation
      3. Co-operating with future prosecutions of individuals.

      These DPAs can be used for prosecution of companies who have committed:-
      1. Fraud
      2. Bribery
      3. Other Economic Crimes

      The problem is the Web Site is not allowing us to make comments can this be fixed?

      The Office of fair Trading (OFT) has an offence called The Cartel Offence and a company found to be a member of a Cartel could be find up to 10%of it worldwide turnover.
      The offences cover:-
      1. Price Fixing
      2. Limitation of services for profit
      3. Market Sharing
      4. Bid-Rigging

      With all this Legislation already in place, why would the OFT allow Peverel to escape under an amnesty? Have the Banks had an input into this?

      The OFT may consider that it is in the interest of the economic well-being of the UK when granting immunity from prosecution to INDIVIDUALS who inform competition authorities of Cartels and then co-operate in the circumstances that are set out . Pursuant to s 190(4) EAO2 of the OFT. It does not mention that companies are immune???
      Any Comments my friends.

  2. “– cooks up a leniency deal with the perpetrators of these rip-offs.” Surely, if the OFT, a government body responsible for investigating complaints, is found to have been complicit and colluded with the company complained about to cover-up an inter-company price-fixing scandal, the police should be called in to investigate the OFT. Did Peverel buy their silence with an underhand payment/a bribe?

  3. Simin Abbasian says

    Over the years I also had very serious problems with my leasehold property. This was/is the most devastation experience of my life. I also made complaints to OFT. Even I send email to PM office, County Court, Lvt, and solicitors. Non of them highlighted the possible criminal activities on our block over the years. It feels they all are colluded in this scenario. I am wondering why people for shop lifting will have criminal records but In leasehold property all the crimes are brushed under the carpet. I believe constant psychological impact on leasehold property owners is inevitable. They live with uncertainty and can not predict when the next bill is coming to destroy their happiness. We have duty to protect 3 million people. The children of these homes need peace and certainty for a healthy life. The idea of ‘home’ represents security and safety for most people, in our leasehold property the freeholder steals our daily happiness. Every thing starts from home……

    • Wikipedia: “White-collar crime = financially motivated non-violent crime committed for illegal monetary gain. Within criminology, it was defined first by sociologist Edwin Sutherland in 1939 as ‘a crime committed by a person of respectability and high social status in the course of his occupation’. White-collar employees are more likely to commit fraud, bribery, Ponzi schemes, insider trading, embezzlement, cybercrime, copyright infringement, money laundering, identity theft, and forgery.

      Blue-collar street crimes = arson, burglary, theft, assault, rape, and vandalism. A large majority of those in jail are poor, blue-collar criminals.”

      Yes, corrupt, greedy developers/landlords and managing agents of leasehold properties have colluded and preyed off the retired middle classes for decades and have got away with these heinous crimes. But, hopefully, this price-fixing scandal will be its downfall. And, yes, it is the Conservative Party in particular that has allowed the exploitation of retired/vulnerable leaseholders to go on for so long with impunity.