August 17, 2022

The ‘dribbling geriatrics’ BBC report and Campaign against retirement leasehold exploitation’s busy November 2009

The autumn of 2009 was a particularly busy time for Campaign against retirement leasehold exploitation.

Activists had complained about Peverel and the Tchenguiz companies which owned it – and the freehold and numerous associated companies that provided services.

More than 100 attended a meeting in the Palace of Westminster, organised by LibDem MP Ed Davey, now the Energy Secretary and the MP for Kingston and Surbiton.

The Times newspaper carried a number of reports, including a detailed outline of the Cirrus price-fixing scam over door entry and warden call systems on December 4 2009. This can be read on this site here.

Both Davey and Sir Peter Bottomley are demanding answers of the Office of Fair Trading, which has cooked up a farcical leniency deal with Peverel.

This is based on the fiction that Peverel turned itself into the OFT in December 2009 and, therefore, should not be punished over the alleged Cirrus scam.

In fact, numerous Campaign against retirement leasehold exploitation activists – and Ed Davey himself – reported the issues around Peverel throughout 2009.

In November 2009 Ian Rapley, who is still employed by the Tchenguiz freehold companies, was interviewed by the BBC. He is reported in the Daily Telegraph saying that complaints about Peverel came from “serial complainers” rather than “dribbling geriatrics”.

The BBC was deluged with complaints and the remark was compared to Gerald Ratner describing his firm’s products as “total crap”. The Daily Telegraph report can be read here

On the following day, Rapley attempts some damage limitation. He is interviewed saying right to manage of retirement leasehold properties only saved one or two per cent on service charges. Campaign against retirement leasehold exploitation would say 25 per cent minimum, and a lot less grief.

The “dribbling geriatric” remark is referred to, but it is not on this clip. It is withdrawn by Peverel’s then owners.

Rapley was not alone in putting his foot in it in November 2009. The then Peverel CEO Nigel Bannister was quoted in the Times saying:

 People are reading a conspiracy into a problem that isn’t there. We use Cirrus because it is an excellent service.”

 This is a couple of weeks before Peverel realised the game was up. The Times outlined how the Cirrus scam worked, thanks to a dossier provided by a Campaign against retirement leasehold exploitation activist, and Peverel then supposedly confessed.

As a result of this public-spirited change of heart, the OFT – which has already let down pensioners over its pathetic deal over exit fees reported last September – decided to offer Peverel leniency.

Peverel / Tchenguiz executives must have laughed like drains. The OFT did not begin its leisurely inquiry until April 2011.

At that point, Peverel was in administration and the Tchenguiz brothers had been arrested by the Serious Fraud Office. Wrongly, as it turned out.

Now Tchenguiz is claiming £300 million compensation from taxpayers.

Peverel, bought in 2012 by the same venture capitalists who owned it in the 1990s, will be gently rapped over the knuckles by the OFT in September.

It is an open question whether the contingency funds of sites plundered in this alleged scam – one has to say “alleged” because the OFT has not issued its full report – will ever be repaid.

Comments

  1. If the OFT allow Peverel to get away with this scot free I think we should all call for a public inquiry… nothing less will do to get to the truth.

    • Trevor Bradley says

      If the OFT are “allowed” to get away with not taking any action there should be a revolution.
      Campaign against retirement leasehold exploitation, do we need to send any e mail(s) to Sir Peter Bottomley , or any other persons
      Should/can you Campaign against retirement leasehold exploitation arrange a petition so our feelings can be sent in one package

      • What is the point of the OFT?

        Like the PHSO/NHS complaints system it is easy money funded by the government through taxation and its staff collude with and protect those complained about – not the victims. The PHSO refused to investigate my complaint and based its decision on two documents given to them as evidence by the GP concerned. I asked for a copy of both documents and my request was refused. After months of arguing I was eventually given a redacted copy of one of the documents. I was told that if I thought my medical records had been manipulated only a court could order records to be rectified. I was forced to go to court as a litigant in person and eventually the defendant’s solicitor sent me the copies of both these documents that the PHSO had refused to hand over. Therefore the PHSO decision was erroneous. Only 3% of complaints made to the PHSO are ever investigated and Ann Clwyd MP requested a review of the NHS complaints system and she will be submitting a report by the autumn.

        There needs to be a similar urgent government review of the OFT. It is not doing the job it was set up to do.

  2. Michael Epstein says

    Apart from taking the “Easy Option” could part of the OFT rational be that if any fine were to be imposed on Peverel for the Cirrus price fixing they would simply go into voluntary liquidation?
    After all, the main investors are secured creditors are they not?.
    Think of the embarrassment if the OFT had banned all exit fees, leading to the collapse of one of the largest freeholders in the country and followed that up with a fine for price fixing leading to the collapse of one of the largest property management companies in the country?
    How would any government minister still be able to say “current leasehold legislation works?”

  3. Michael Epstein says

    If I understand this correctly, Mr Rapley would have put Mr Eric Mathews, the 94 year old WW2 RAF Squadron Leader, in the serial complainer, rather than dribbling geriatric category.
    However thanks to Mr Mathews we know that the LVT accused Peverel of being arrogant and that Peverel had the “Intention hiding of information to which residents would have been entitled”
    In awarding refunds the LVT makes mention of “Excessive insurance commissions paid to Peverel’s insurance company accounts for £8,029,36 of the ruling,while a new emergency call and door system fitted by Peverel’s sister company CIRRUS and of questionable value involved a repayment of £3,445,98.