AFPG NEWS Download this file
The case is for winning. Let us all be strong and persistent in our efforts.
We are not for “grinding down”
23rd December 2005
Further to our posting on 29th August and as we are well into December, I have contacted the European Court of Human Rights and had the opportunity to talk to a rather helpful lady in registry (Irish) who informed me that an examination likely in 2005 was probably a bit optimistic. However, she did inform me that an examination was likely in January or February 2006. Being careful not to ‘be a nuisance’ I suggested that if we have heard nothing by end of January, would it be inconvenient if I contacted again at the end of January. The answer was “by all means”!
We are making every effort to make sure our case continues its momentum and we will be lobbying all MP’s and members of the House of Lords following the Christmas recess to ensure they are all aware of what is happening in the ECHR.
The Directors wish you all a very enjoyable Christmas and success to our cause in 2006
1st December 2005
In response to many enquiries, many of you may have seen the following statement in the media made by the COMBINED ARMED FORCES FEDERATION (UK):-
“The Combined Armed Forces Federation UK is in the process of challenging the Government over the fact that many members of the Armed Forces, who left before qualifying for a full pension prior to 1975, should be entitled to a pro-rata pension, based on the number of years served, because salary levels were reduced below the civilian equivalent in order to provide them”
To our (AFPG Ltd) knowledge, CAFF(UK) have not demonstrated in any way that the above statement is true. If it were this company making that claim, we could follow it up with details of our action in the British High Court, when the British Government (who sing our praises highly when military action is required) fought us hard and long with every means possible, eventually having us struck out. The Judge was not convinced and gave AFPG the right to appeal. The British Government (Treasury, MoD and FCO) put forward a legal team worthy of defending the nation against the rest of the world which led us to believe we have a just cause worth fighting for. We lost at appeal and at the House of Lords although these were a foregone conclusion given the Government’s resolve to “see us off”. We had to pursue, at an extreme cost to the members, the last two actions in order to take our case to the European Court of Human Rights. This is where we are now!
That is what I call CHALLENGING THE GOVERNMENT!
If anyone knows what action CAFF(UK) is “actively progressing” perhaps they would be kind enough to let one of the Directors at AFPG Ltd into the secret. Certainly CAFF(UK) have consistently tried to gain information from AFPG by attending our meetings (uninvited) and telephoning our legal advisers. If they hope to ride on the back of AFPG they will be disappointed. Our “Limited Company” action is on behalf of the company members only. Yes, it is likely it will set a precedent but similar action will have to come from other groups or individuals if they are to benefit. Believe me, the British Government (H.M.Treasury) will not pay out a penny more than it is obliged (or instructed) so to do.
Barry Wells – Director AFPG Ltd.
20th October 2005
No further news at this time. Keep hanging in there!
29th August 2005
One of our members has contacted the ECHR website saying he was an interested party. He received the following from ‘DympnaSwanton@echr.coe.int’ :-
“Hudson & Others case (Application no. 34493/04) the case is still pending before the court. It is likely that the initial examination will commence before the end of the year.” The email was signed Clare Ovey For The Registrar.
Hang in there everyone there may be a light at the end of the tunnel!!!
22nd July 2005
Our ECHR application number is: 34493/04. The ECHR website is: www.echr.coe.int.
There is very little to report at this time.
Our application has now been at Strasbourg ten months but on the positive side we have not been ruled “inadmissable” and we are aware of cases that have been dismissed within five months of applying. This makes it apparent they do carry out a preliminary sift which we have obviously passed.
The bad news is that the ECHR has a huge backlog and, as most of you know, French administration closes for holidays during the whole of August.
With that in mind, Richmonds Solicitors are actively lobbying senior MP’s and at the same time your Directors are making every effort to raise our profile with the media.
The response to our letter of April 2005 was very good with in excess of 95% replying positively.
Have had many requests to update this site on a more regular basis so will posting at approximate monthly intervals – if only to say that we are still alive and kicking.
If any pertinent news breaks it will be posted immediately.
29th April 2005
The response to our letter of 16th April has been very good indeed. It will take a couple of weeks or more to acknowledge them all so we ask all Members to be patient. Thanks everyone.
20th April 2005
Main decision made at the meeting in March was that it would be a waste of funds to call an “Open” General Meeting until such time as there is something to present to Members.
By now you will all have received a letter asking for a further subscription of £30 to meet the bill from the Treasury regarding costs of the defendants in our High Court and Court of Appeal actions. We have instructed Richmonds to argue the amounts in certain areas and they are optimistic that the total can be reduced. This will also give us the chance to gather in the subscriptions prior to having to make out a cheque.
We are often asked the question – ‘what is happening at Strasbourg?’
Honest answer is that we don’t know yet but can assure all Members that every effort is being made to glean some information even if it is only that the case is being processed and there is xxxxx weeks to wait.
Your words of encouragement via telephone, email and snailmail are much appreciated.
21st February 2005
Have had many emails and phone calls asking what is happening so best to put something here on website.
We have not heard anything from Strasbourg to this date but this is not unusual. We were informed when we sent in our papers for the case that it could take about six months, or more, before we do hear anything at all. If nothing heard by Mid April, then we will make enquiries to progress and even possible get a case number which we will promulgate on this site.
For those who are not aware, all case papers are initially read by three independent judges (selected from countries that have signed the European Convention of Human Rights) which is almost like a judicial review. They will assess if our case is “admissable”. Being positive, when this happens the case will be forwarded to the panel of 7 judges who will determine the outcome. At the same time, the UK Government will be informed that they are the defendants of the case (which is admissable) to be reviewed.
Those following progress will be pleased to hear that we now have over 1,925 fully paid up members and there is a Directors’ meeting mid March. If anyone has anything they feel ought to be raised at that meeting, please email Mike Steel : firstname.lastname@example.org
16th December 2004
1. There is no news at the moment as our papers are being processed at the ECHR in Strasbourg. This is, as expected to be, a lengthy process and we will probably not hear anything until the Spring of 2005. For anyone who is interested in all the procedures and articles there is a website to browse which is:
2. There was a directors meeting on 9th December when it was agreed that former members of the Armed Forces Pension Group administered by Richmonds Solicitors who had paid no more than £385 in subscriptions should no longer be the responsibility of AFPG Ltd and therefore AFPG Ltd will no longer pay for the administration of the personnel who remain on the Richmonds Database. Richmonds are being requested to forward our letter to the remaining 40 or so ex members who have paid between £386 and £581 which encourages them to transfer their details to AFPG Ltd as this will be their last chance to do so.
3. There will be a selected letter going to all those members who have not yet completed their full subscription going out after the Christmas rush.
8th September 2004
At long last we have a self-contained group, properly represented both legally and administratively
I know that this is a position the majority of members want. It is time to move forward.
In order to minimise costs and keeping in mind the reason that many of our members are continuing this fight, we have formed a Limited Company. Acting as a Company limits liabilities for business losses to assets that belong to the Company. Our own assets, such as house and car etc are protected. In order to do this, we have with Richmonds Solicitors assistance, purchased a dormant “ready made” company and re-named it AFPG Limited. For the day to day management of the company we have four directors. Mike Steel, Barry Wells, Charles Gerrish and Chris Watt.
Mike Steel and Barry Wells are no doubt names you recognise as AFPG members, both have experience of the AFPG Group and, before retirement, working practice in management and small business.
Charles Gerrish has worked as a bank manager and business manager to a firm of solicitors.
Chris Watt is an ex army officer and is active in local and national politics. As a collective, we think that we have sufficient across the board experience to carry the fight forward to Strasbourg, to the European Court of Human Rights. For obvious reasons, we are retaining and instructing the same firm of Solicitors. Richmonds of Keynsham has worked with and for the AFPG since it was first formed.
They have diligently researched and retain material, including witness statements, essential to our case.
We all consider, and our legal advisory team is as certain as it can be, that our gross pay, during time in the armed forces, had an abatement to fund a retirement source. It is considered that paperwork exists to support this. If it didn’t, why did the Government fight us so voraciously in court? That point alone is worth remembering.
AFPG Ltd has 1,612 FULLY PAID UP MEMBERS. Well done and thank you for your loyalty and support. To those of you that have paid the bulk of their contribution, (approximately 450) is it really worth leaving the fight at this point? Does it make sense to spend such a vast amount of money and then throw in the towel? Mike Steel can tell you what the deficit is if you contact him. Why not come with us as we take it that extra mile? Remember the Lotto motto. “You have to be in it to win it”.
Needless to say, it is not a cost free exercise. We are keeping costs minimal but not zero. Your Directors give their time freely, seeking recompense for costs such as office materials, essential communication and travelling expenses. Legal bills still have to be paid of course.
We that have formed this company are intent on making the British Government, whichever colour it may be, produce evidence in court that money was not taken from pre 1975 service personnel without their knowledge. It is a considered opinion they will not want to do that and will settle out of court.
This letter is being sent to the entire 2,158 members of the Armed Forces Pension Group, whether or not they have elected to continue the action with AFPG Ltd. Richmonds has completed the paperwork for Strasbourg European Court of Human Rights, but because the “Wheels of justice grind exceeding slow” a response will most likely not be made before 2005. If you want to be included in the action, the time to act is now. Why not top up your contribution by sending a cheque or postal order to Mike Steel at the Company address above.
For further information, visit the web site www.afpg.info or contact any of the directors.
Please bear in mind that if you speak to Richmonds Solicitors directly it will cost us (you) money.
To achieve our aims we need to fund a legal team to represent the company in the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR). The estimated cost will be in the region of £150,000 – big bucks in anybody’s terms! If the membership of August 2003 had stayed with us (just over 2000) and topped up their subscriptions as the majority has done, we would have had a £90,000 head start with Richmonds Solicitors writing off £98,000 of accumulated administrative costs. This was reported at the EGM in February 2004. The result is that, although Richmonds have written off that debt, the Company started with nothing.
Not exactly true. Since forming the Limited Company, and given the media coverage (Daily Mail/Money section and Daily Telegraph/Mike Steel), further subscriptions from members, new members and donations have been coming in from those wishing to carry on the fight. It is estimated at the time of writing that we have £20,000 plus to start us off.
This is very encouraging. To apply maximum pressure on the government, we need to take action at the ECHR. To this end, we will be presenting our papers to the ECHR by the end of August this year. Your Directors want this to succeed, if only to compensate them for their hard work and commitment in forming this Company and enabling the fight to continue.
With everyone “topping up” their subscriptions, we very much hope that further funds will not be called for. This cannot be guaranteed but, as we are now totally controlling administration and therefore costs, if any monies are required in the future we will be able to forecast it and keep it to a minimum. For example, with a membership of 2,000+ and a requirement of say, another £40,000, then a letter to all members asking for £20 each would not be unreasonable.
Your Company Directors are maintaining the integrity of the AFPG Ltd data base, keeping full financial records and pledge to keep the membership informed by whatever means at their disposal of “up to the minute” events. Mike Steel and Barry Wells are always ready to speak to members by telephone, e-mail or good old fashioned Royal Mail.