A Short History


Foreword by the late Geoffrey Campion MBE

It is most difficult to cover all the hard work and effort since 1986 and especially in the early years leading to the court case in 1990. It is therefore only possible to outline the main points of the main campaign. Enormous thanks must be given to the main group who met during the 1980s keeping their faith and contributing financially to Margaret, my daughter in law, who spent many hours typing letters to all those pensioners who rallied to the call and without whom that fight could not have taken place; let alone won. It would be remiss of me not to mention the help given so freely by friends and relatives in offering their office machinery, photocopying and fax facilities. Given at the end is a list of acknowledgments to others who played their part.


Prior to 1986 a group of pensioners from Players’ Sales Office kept in touch through meeting on the first Friday of each month at the then Players’ Recreational and Social Club. This ‘cosy get-together’ continued until April 1986, when two significant events took place.

1. The then Chancellor’s Finance Act, with its effects upon Occupational Pension Fund surpluses.

2. Take over of Imperial Group by Hanson Trust, as it then was.

From Newspaper reports it appeared that the Imperial Tobacco Pension Fund had a large surplus and fears were raised that perhaps this surplus had been the attraction to the new owner.

Fortunately, as it turned out, Geoff Campion and Bill Garton were in this group which decided to get to know more about Occupational Pensions, attempt to monitor pension fund activities in general, but the Imperial one in particular. IMPAC was born. Fears were certainly justified when in the late 1986 the troubles of the Courage’s pensioners made the news prompting the group into raising its profile. Geoff Campion volunteered to co-ordinate ideas and become spokesman. He wrote to the Prime Minister, Government Ministers, Members of Parliament, radio, television and newspapers to voice the fears of the group.

Initially the task proved unrewarding and frustrating and for some time there was no response, but eventually one sympathetic ear was found. This was Christopher Fildes who was writing a series of articles in the Daily Telegraph about Occupational Pension Schemes illustrating the vulnerability of schemes to determined employers. IMPAC’s worst fears were being justified.

Ministers, MPs and the popular tabloids did not seem interested; it appeared that they considered that Occupational Pension Funds were adequately protected by Trustee Law. Fortunately however various organisations were now taking an interest in Occupational Pension Schemes and articles were now starting to appear in the press.

Then early in 1988, a bolt out of the blue! Thames TV approached IMPAC asking if they could send a reporter and crew to record one of their meetings. Thames TV included this session in one of their Thames City programmes. IMPAC was on its way!

As the year progressed, IMPAC members wrote letters to their MPs and all, quite naturally, received replies. However one member, Dick Johnson, received a surprise telephone call from the Director of John Player in Nottingham. He was asked to call in at the factory to meet the Chairman of the Committee of Management. Consequently it was arranged that he, Geoff. Campion and Bill Garton meet the Committee of Management Solicitor, Ralph Whiting and Chairman David Palmer along with one of the trustees and the Pension Fund Manager, Tony Cullington. They were obviously eyeing-up the ‘opposition’.

This meeting took place on the 7th October 1988 and proved to be quite informative. However, the information that, “on the basis used by the Government Actuary (ie that which determines whether tax should be paid on any portion of the return of investment) there was no surplus in the Imperial Tobacco Pension Fund” was received with much surprise by IMPAC. It took some time to realise that whilst this statement was no doubt accurate, somebody was being very economical with the facts.

The mood of the members of IMPAC was now set!

In the June of 1989, the then Social Security Minister, John Moore, commissioned the Occupational Pensions Board to fully investigate Occupational Pension Schemes and to report back to him. IMPAC submitted written evidence. The finished report “Protecting Pensions” was a disappointment. The findings concluded that there was no case for reform. Letters were again written to the Minister and subsequently to his successor, Tony Newton, voicing their disappointment and indeed their anger, but all was to no avail.

While all this was going on, every endeavour was being made to persuade people to to take interest and become involved. Whilst some pensioners were interested, the majority seemed to be of the opinion that IMPAC were seeing sharks where none existed and that Imperial Tobacco was the same paternalistic company that they had known all their working lives. If they had understood that that Imperial Tobacco was now owned by a regime with a totally different philosophy, then they might have had second thoughts. Articles in ‘Pension Management’ were in accord with IMPAC’s views and their ‘Disclosures of Information’ were a godsend, as was the help and advice sometimes from the most unlikely of sources.

The predicted rude awakening finally surfaced on the 1st July 1990.