BBC slams Pension Life campaigner over legal status and 'double standards'

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BBC slams Pension Life campaigner over legal status and 'double standards'

The BBC's 'You and Yours' programme on BBC Radio Four has hit out at pensions campaigner and activist Angie Brooks over what it calls the legitimacy of her status as a 'qualified legal barrister' and for what it claims are double standards' for allegedly receiving money from both the clients of and some companies that they were campaigning against.

The BBC programme says that it has evidence that Brooks was "secretly paid" by two organisations while at the same time her company Pension Life was also helping groups of scammed individuals bid to retrieve lost assets from the same companies.

Brooks - who has been one of the industry's foremost pension scam campaigners - runs the notorious Pension Life website that publishes opinion blogs and often vitriolic commentary in its campaigns against what it calls 'pension scams' and other areas of international financial services activity that she feels needs addressing.

Pension Life, founded and operated by Brooks and a small team from their base in Spain, also offers individuals that may have been affected by pension scams the option to pay a fee for collective services including support in helping bring joint action against companies that have folded or ceased trading.

The BBC Radio Four programme 'You and Yours' programme - originally broadcast on March 19 - said: "Everyone I've spoken to said Angela Brooks gives the 'impression' of being a 'highly-qualified' specialist in pensions and the taxes surrounding them. In her email to Terry [a client of Pension Life} she described herself as a barrister. Angela Brooks is not registered as a barrister and has never qualified ever as one."

Barrister?

"The [UK financial services] regulator (the Financial Conduct Authority) says that describing yourself as a barrister to clients or prospective clients when you are not qualified is prohibited". However, the BBC pointed that you can "call yourself a barrister if you appear in a tax tribunal (not official UK courts) even if you are an amateur like Angela Brooks".

International Investment, along with much of the world's international financial press, has regularly covered Brooks campaigning work including the work that she has undertaken against the notorious Ark pension collapse in which investors lost millions.

In 2018, we met with Brooks and in this exclusive video, asked her a series of questions about her claims against 'pension scammers', how Pension Life operated, including whether it was fair to take additional fees from clients who have been scammed, where she resolutely defended her practices.

Dissatisfied 

Some of Brooks clients appeared in the BBC Radio Four's You and Yours' programme (around 18 mins 52secs in), complaining to the BBC that they were dissatisfied with the service that received from Brooks having paid her fees (of between £750 - £1500).

In the radio programme one client of Brooks reacted strongly when he was told by the BBC that she had allegedly received £10,000 by Store First for her services, particularly as he said that he had also paid Brookes to represent his interests by trying to retrieve lost pension savings from the very same company.

In another case, the BBC said that Brooks is also alleged to have received £20,000 across two years from Mometum Trustees in Malta, despite also representing a number of clients that had allededly lost millions of pounds in pension money held by the same company.

UK IFA

Guy Miles, a UK-based IFA, who also appeared on the BBC programme, questioned the legitimacy of Brooks' campaigning work and said that Brooks had "demanded £5,000" from him prior to her writing what he called a damning blog article about his own practices. 

Brooks worked on the UK government backed Transparency Tax Force, a spokesperson of which said that initially they were "really impressed" by Brooks and that she received the 'Transprency Trophy' at an event in London in previous years.

But after "more and more people were becoming increasingly doubtful over the authenticity of the work that she was doing", she was emailed and told that her services were not needed by the group any longer.

The BBC programme said that it had not received a reply from Brooks other than a reply from her lawyer who said that he was leading the case of 17 of her clients through the criminal courts in Spain. The BBC programme said that her lawyer said that the cost is being borne by Brooks and not the clients. He added that her work has been "essential in bringing together those that have been harmed".

International Investment was not able to speak to Brooks at time of publication of this article. 

Momentum Pensions contacted International Investment issued the following statement relating to the BBC programme. It read: "Momentum Pensions maintains the highest standards in delivering its responsibilities as a pension solutions provider and we understand that Angela Brooks, through Pension Life, has independently supported customers who have received misleading financial advice.

"We have a policy of not disclosing the details of any relationships with third parties, whether they exist or not, but given the inaccuracy of the reporting to date, we can confirm that we have no legal or contractual relationship with Pension Life."

 

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