Twins accept Lloyd's plan despite 'betrayal'

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The Independent Online
Two thorns in the side of the Lloyd's insurance market, the identical twins Peter and Colin Vine, yesterday said they had reluctantly accepted the rescue offer which closed yesterday for UK members.

The 80-year-old twins became a cause celebre in summer because their case demonstrated that Lloyd's pounds 3.2bn rescue plan was treating members who paid their debts on time far worse than those who dug in their heels and refused.

Colin, the brother who paid, was left pounds 123,000 worse off by the rescue than Peter, the brother who refused. They are among a large number of angry names who appear to have decided in the past few days not to hold out against the offer, which now has the support of enough names to proceed after a meeting of the Lloyd's ruling council today.

But Lloyd's still risks a prolonged fight with as many as 3,000 of its 34,000 members who had not, by yesterday afternoon, accepted the pounds 3.2bn rescue.

Lloyd's announced that 90.2 per cent of the membership had accepted, and it said the proportion of the 2,700 American members who had voted in favour had risen from 53 per cent to 66.7 per cent since Tuesday. This was after a rush of acceptances from America in the wake of a US appeal court ruling on Tuesday that cleared the last serious obstacle to the rescue. American members have been given an extension of the deadline so the 90.2 per cent total could rise.

The Vine twins said they had no alternative but to accept the offer. Both joined Lloyd's at the same time in the 1960s and quit active underwriting in 1990, and they were also members of the same syndicates. But Colin Vine sold property and investments to raise cash and bring his payments to Lloyd's up to date after the Outhwaite syndicates to which he belonged got deeply into trouble.

Peter Vine refused to pay any new money to Lloyd's after the Outhwaite disaster and instead forced the market authorities to draw down on the deposits he had lodged with them.

The detailed documents sent by Lloyd's last month to the two brothers showed that as a result of his intransigence Peter will bebetter off than his brother, who supported the market through thick and thin. Peter Vine said he was due to pay pounds 275,000 in final settlement of his account at Lloyd's but Colin Vine must pay pounds 398,000. Peter Vine said: "We are very sad about it because in my opinion what Lloyd's has done to the names who have supported it compares to the betrayal at the Last Supper. Judas Iscariot didn't do better than this."

He added that the people who had saved Lloyd's should be compensated for what they did, not savaged for it, and he said pressure should be put on Lloyd's after the settlement went through to find some money to put right the wrong.

Peter Vine said he had never wanted to see Lloyd's wrecked but he had wanted a solution with "some semblance of justice or fairness."

Colin Vine said: "I have accepted because I have no other choice." If he refused, he would lose another pounds 87,000, which he said amounted to blackmail. Of Lloyd's, he said: "You can't trust them as far as you can throw a battleship."

The tax bill if he was forced to sell his investments now to pay the full debt would have "wiped me out, but fortunately friends and family have rallied round".

A letter from David Rowland, Lloyd's chairman, suggested Colin Vine would benefit from help under tranche 4 of the rescue plan, but he had already been told by other Lloyd's officials that he would get none.