Pensioners in new Maxwell bail-out plea

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MAXWELL pensioners have launched a new attempt to persuade the Government to bail out the pension funds, claiming that just pounds 55m - far less than was thought - is needed.

The pensioners have written to more than 400 MPs who have former Maxwell exployees in their consituencies. They say the additional funds needed for the pensioners to receive all the money to which they are entitled is now relatively small because of recoveries, the commitment by Mirror Group Newspapers to make up the deficiencies in its pension scheme and the Government's decision to make a pounds 100m interest-free loan to cover the guaranteed minimum pension.

In the letter, signed by Monty Alfred, a former Maxwell employee, the MPs have been told that a payment of little more than pounds 3m a year for 15 years by the Goverment would secure the pensioners' future.

Robert Maxwell stole more than pounds 400m in cash and assets from the funds. Nearly pounds 50m of assets have been recovered since his death. An appeal by Sir John Cuckney has raised pounds 6m, MGN has agreed to put in more than pounds 130m over 14 years and the Government's commitment to cover the guaranteed minimum pension is worth pounds 104m.

The actuarial estimates of the amount needed to fill the remaining gap are between pounds 46m and pounds 64m, with pounds 55m the most likely amount.

The Maxwell pensioners will be lobbying Parliament on Tuesday. Pressure on the Government is intensifying, with the Goode Commission's report into pension funds - to be published in September - likely to favour compensation for funds hit by fraud.