Brewer Samuel Smith fined £30,000

Independent brewer Samuel Smith and its chairman have been fined almost £30,000 for repeatedly refusing to provide details of its pension scheme.

The Pension Regulator (TPR) had reportedly been trying to gain further details of the pension plan at the Yorkshire brewery, which employs more than 2,000 people.

Yet after much chasing a letter from Samuel Smith’s eccentric owner, Humphrey Smith, arrived stating: “We are in receipt of your tiresome letter and we are not prepared to divulge the information to your organisation.”

The company and Mr Smith were then accused of being in breach of the Pensions Act 2004 by neglecting or refusing to provide information and documents without a reasonable excuse.

Although the brewer did then hand over the relevant documents legal proceedings had already been launched.

Smith pleaded guilty to the offences in May of this year and was fined after a hearing in Brighton Magistrate’s Court yesterday (Monday 30 July).

The brewery was fined £18,750, Smith himself £8,000 and then additional costs of £1,240.

As reported in The Telegraph, Judge Teresa Szagun said: “The terse tone of the refusal puts the culpability at the highest level of intent. The pensions under question were in respect of 2,000 employees whose future and security are under question.”

The pension plan will now be subject to analysis.

‘Sam Smith’s’ operates over 200 pubs across the country and is renowned for keeping costs down not only by only selling its own beer that is extremely inexpensive, but also its own wines, spirits and soft drinks.

No music is played in the pubs either as Mr Smith reportedly refuses to pay music copyright levies nor are there any televisions.

Having banned swearing in all his establishments last year, he is said to visit pubs in disguise to ensure his rules are being followed and is renowned for his, at times, draconian grip on the company.

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