Former Norton CEO Stuart Garner responds to pensions scandal

After a period of radio silence from the man who over saw the rebirth and collapse of Norton, Stuart Garner has now spoken for the first time about the scandal


Stuart Garner

STUART Garner is the man who steered Norton from the rebirth and then to collapse has spoken out regarding the pension scandal for the first time.

After initially refusing to appear at the Pension Ombudsman hearing, for fears over his personal safety, Garner has gone public regarding debacle, confirming that he hopes the people who invested millions in the schemes connected to the business could yet receive “all their capital back”.

The news comes just a couple of weeks after Garner was found to have acted dishonestly in his running of the three pensions schemes, which between them held more than £10m. The investigation into the Norton pension schemes came about after 31 investors made complaints that their pension pots were not released on time, among other grievances.

It was also found that Garner had breached his statutory, investment, and trust law duties. Failed to have adequate controls to manage conflicts of interest and ensure the effective administration of the schemes. And most worryingly, that he didn’t have the right knowledge and understanding of the law relating to pensions and trusts.

Anthony Arter, Pensions Ombudsman investigating the case, said:

“I find that the trustee’s [Garner’s] maladministration has caused an exceptional level of distress and inconvenience to the applicants, preventing them from making important life decisions over a prolonged period, such as retiring from their occupations, and I shall direct that the trustee makes a payment to the applicants of an amount which recognises the level of distress and inconvenience which they have suffered.”

Former Norton CEO Stuart Garner speaks out

In a rare statement, Garner has gone on record to try and put across his side of the story. He said:

“It’s not appropriate to comment on the ombudsman just now.

“I would say I’ve worked with BDO who are sitting on £16 million cash from [the] Norton asset sale with a further several million expected to come in from Norton property sales.

“The money is not “missing”. It is all in the business and its assets.

“No-one has agreed what the pension investor amount is yet. But with £16 million in cash and several million of property assets to come in, it looks likely they will receive all their capital back.”

The ex-Norton CEO also gave an insight into what he will do next, with Business Live reporting that he has no initial plans on what he will do post-Norton – although it’s fair to say pensions and investment won’t be on his to do list.

He said:

“[I am] Currently working with DBO to ensure a strong property sale across Donington Hall and the Priest House [Hotel].

“I’ve lost everything with Norton, so I’ve no idea what the future holds yet.”

BDO refused to comment but it is understood a creditors report will be out in late July or early August.