Tue, 26 March, 2019

Fleet Street at Closing time

Read a sumptuous look back at Fleet Street pubs in All Our Yesterdays

Happy Birthday, Donald Zec – 100 today!

DONALD ZEC, OBE, the Daily Mirror’s incomparable showbiz and feature writer – and a member of the AMP – is 100 years old today. Don specialised in writing about film, and set the bar for the big interview.

With thanks to Roy Greenslade for the nudge, we’d like to join with all Don Zec’s friends and colleagues in wishing him a very happy 100th birthday. Roy’s tweet: https://twitter.com/GreensladeR/status/1105425615761666048

Don is pictured here in 1955 in a study by another Mirror doyen – Zola. Pic: Mirrorpix.

An edit from Wikipedia: Donald Zec’s career in journalism began in 1938 with a three-day trial at the Daily Mirror. In 2009 he recalled: “I was so embarrassingly bad that no one had the courage to tell me, so I stayed for 40 years.”

After war service, he returned to the Daily Mirror as a crime reporter and later became the paper’s Royal correspondent. He also wrote about many megastars of the day, including Humphrey Bogart, Brigitte Bardot, David Niven, Ingrid Bergman, The Beatles, and Marilyn Monroe.

In later years he interviewed major political figures such as Labour Prime Minister Harold Wilson, the (then) leader of the opposition Margaret Thatcher, Lord Mountbatten of Burma, and the former Californian Governor Ronald Reagan.

In 1970 Donald was awarded an OBE for services to journalism.

Donald Zec has written many biographies, including that of his brother, the political cartoonist Philip Zec. In 2012 Don won The Oldie magazine’s inaugural British Artists Award for artists over the age of 60. A year later his portrait of his late paternal grandfather  – entitled “My Grandfather, the Pious Patriarch”) was presented at the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition, jointly winning the Hugh Casson Prize for Drawing.



AMP Patron resigns from the Labour Party

IAN AUSTIN MP – the AMP’s patron in the House of Commons – has resigned from the Labour Party and will sit as an Independent, though he will not be joining other Labour rebels in The Independent Group.

Ian said said: “The Labour party has been my life, so this has been the hardest decision I have ever had to take. But I have to be honest, and the truth is that I have become ashamed of the Labour party under Jeremy Corbyn.”

Ian Austin was adopted as a baby by a Jewish couple, refugees from the Holocaust, and it was known the anti-Semitism issue caused him great distress. In his resignation statement, he said: “I am appalled at the offence and distress Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour party have caused to Jewish people. It is terrible that a culture of extremism, anti-Semitism and intolerance is driving out good MPs and decent people who have committed their life to mainstream politics.”

Former AMP chairman Tom Brown said: “Ian has always taken a special interest in our affairs. He told me his first ambition when he left school was to get an NUJ card.

“It will continue to be helpful to be able to consult with Ian, who has worked in the background on issues such as Equitable Life, and threats to company pensions.”




New rebuff for Equitable victims

The Equitable Life disgrace rumbles on, and the govenment came under pressure in a recent Commons debate, as TOM BROWN reports…

MIRROR pensioners who lost out in the Equitable Life scandal have been rebuffed by the government – but a growing group of MPs has vowed to make Parliament think again and pay out on “a debt of honour”.

During the Commons debate on January 31 the government claimed the issue was closed, but a resolution was passed calling on them “to make a commitment to provide full compensation to victims of the scandal”. And the MPs’ action group warned that the government might be forced to do the right thing.

MPs of all parties from all over UK said they had thousands of Equitable Life (EL) losers in their constituencies, and some declared an interest, saying they themselves had lost money.

There are now 238 MPs, and growing, in the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Justice for Equitable Life Policy Holders.

They said many of their constituents have written the most heart-breaking stories about how their lives have been destroyed by this scandal.

The group’s co-chairman Bob Blackman (Harrow East, Con.) told the House – after the flat “No” from the Economic Secretary to the Treasury: “If the Government does not wake up to the fact that, on a cross-Bench basis, we are determined to get justice for Equitable Life policyholders, they may find that if they do not do the right thing it will be forced upon them.”

He recalled that EL encouraged people to move their life savings into unsustainable pension funds by promising bonuses that could not be delivered, and many companies encouraged their employees to invest with EL thinking it was a safe haven.

The parliamentary ombudsman has said this was the most serious case of maladministration she had ever encountered, but under the compensation scheme most [EL victims] received a fraction of what they were due.

Mr Blackman pointed out: “Bizarrely, the government drew a line at 1 September, 1992 for the people who would receive compensation. Someone who took out a pension policy on 31 August, 1992 got not a penny, but those who took a policy out on 1 September 1992 could end up with full compensation. That seems completely arbitrary. Many of these people are particularly vulnerable.”

Some 15,000 of those due money have since died, but 9,200 are still alive and should receive full compensation. Typical was one pensioner, who wrote: “My losses… were £28,942. I received a payment of £6,483.”

The Treasury’s excuse for not fully compensating the EL victims was pressure on the public finances, but MPs argued that as public finances have improved and austerity is at an end, it is now time to compensate the victims of the scandal properly.

However, Economic Secretary to the Treasury John Glen – whose own father died two years ago having been paid only 22.4 per cent of his Equitable Life bond – took a hard line. He said: “I want to be clear: when this settlement was made, it was not subject to future review by the Government.

“No obligation linked it to the future state of public finances. Being in government is about making difficult decisions. These difficult decisions are about how to be fair to both hard-working taxpayers and those in receipt of public spending and services, and where the need to spend public money is greatest.

“The government’s view is that this issue is now closed, and as a Minister I have never been in the business of offering false hope.”

Bob Blackman said the victims of the scandal would be disappointed by what the Minister had said but made it clear the fight will go on: “The reality is that we have a debt of honour. I believe that we should repay that debt.”

A message from the Queen

Former Daily Record news sub Ken McMaster sent us some happy news about his parents’ recent and notable wedding anniversary. You can read all about it in Members’ Noticeboard…


Tony Bassett: read all about it

FORMER Sunday People journalist Tony Bassett began writing books three years ago after more than forty years in journalism, and has just had his first novel published. Read all about it in Members’ Noticeboard

Congrats to Chris, our new trustee director

WELL DONE Chris Rushton – he won the election for a new trustee director of the Mirror Group Newspapers Pension Scheme.

The announcement was finally made officially in the recently distributed Pensions News, the newsletter sent to all Scheme members by the trustee of MGNPS. Votes cast are not available as yet.

Calling all Scots

THERE’S a loyal band of Scots members which supports the AMP annual meeting every year – thank you! But if you’re an MGN pension scheme member or deferred pensioner in Scotland who hasn’t joined AMP – and there are some 4,000 of those all over the UK and beyond – here’s a special offer just for YOU.

Here’s the deal. If you’re not an AMP member but would like to be, come along to the annual meeting in Glasgow on November 21 and we’ll sign you up at the door.

Membership of AMP is a snip at just £10 for life! And as a member you’ll be able to join old friends and colleagues at the meetings, where you’ll also hear from the Trustee and the Company. AND you’ll be able to put questions to the speakers.

And, probably best of all, you’ll receive two cracking full-colour magazines every year – free.

Our Spring issue contains mainly news, data, info, facts and figures. Our bumper 16-pager in the autumn is packed with all the latest AMP and pension news and updates, plus features, members’ stories, and more.

Our newsletters are a must for all ex-MGN folk wherever they live – but are exclusive to members only. So if you want to read them, you have to join.

If you plan to come along to the meeting and join AMP on the day and you’re drawing your pension, please bring proof of your pension payroll number. If you are a deferred, please talk to our friendly man on the door and he’ll sort you out.

This year’s AMP Scottish annual meeting is on Wednesday, November 21 at the Daily Record and Sunday Mail offices in Glasgow. Full details of venue and speakers can be found in the story below – “Annual meetings 2018 – new details”.

So do come and be part of the AMP family – the more, the merrier. It’s full of people just like you, and as members we can all keep in touch.

Memories are made of this

REMEMBER this picture? It was posted on the All Our Yesterdays page in April, 2016 following website contact with Bill Campbell’s widow Carole, who sent the photo across.

And now, thanks to two members with long memories, we can fill in some of the missing details. You can go to the drop down menu Join Us>All Our Yesterdays to get the update.

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