Pensions Ombudsman slams Robin Ellison

Pensions ombudsman Julian Farrand has singled out Eversheds partner Robin Ellison in a public attack on solicitors and judges who he claims have been undermining his legislative role.

In his annual report, Farrand tells how a “prominent pensions solicitor” – who Ellison accepts is him – had “publicised his personal opposition to me as ombudsman through a series of unsoundbites”.

Ellison had criticised the legislative basis of the pensions ombudsman office. In his column in Pensions World, he views the office as a “constitutional anomaly”.

Farrand clashed with Ellison after the solicitor advised pension fund trustees who transferred most of a £20m surplus to employer Hillsdown Holdings.

In the High Court, Judge Knox upheld Farrand's view that this advice was wrong.

Ellison stressed to The Lawyer that he had not been criticising Farrand personally but purely the legislation which established his office. “Julian and I are great friends,” he said.

On the Hillsdown case he said: “Even now I am still not ashamed of what I did. We all learn with hindsight.”

Farrand also attacked a pensions solicitor for threatening to sue him for defamation over his remarks he made about “smoke-filled rooms” in the press. And he took a swipe at some judges for their attitude to the ombudsman idea.