THE victim of a pensions payment scandal fears that he won’t be able to retire because the company he paid into spent thousands of pounds of his money on settling a court case.

Paul Willmott from Old Town and his wife have lost £35,000 because of pension company Equitable Life, which sold guaranteed pensions to people but had so many on the books that it could not afford all the payments.

Angry customers took the company to court to get the money they were owed and Equitable Life paid this out using 16 per cent of everyone else’s pensions – £4.1 billion in total. But that left a substantial shortfall.

The government at the time allowed this to go ahead but was then ordered by the High Court in 2008 to pay some of the money back in compensation.

Across the country, there is still £2.6 billion left unpaid to hundreds of thousands of victims.

Paul, 61, said: “They devalued our pensions and now the government which let that happen has absolved all responsibility. It’s an injustice.

“I can’t retire because a lot of the money I paid into my pension is all gone. It was a reputable company so I thought the money would be safe but I feel like I have been robbed.

“Around 8,000 people, including myself, were wrongly advised to transfer their money to another company and when I did, they bumped up the price of the transfer fee just to add insult to injury.

“The people who stayed eventually got their money back, but we have lost out.

“I’m lucky because I’m still working, others are much closer to retirement and have debts to pay and pensions schemes they can no longer afford.

“When David Cameron’s government was ordered to pay the money back, only 22 per cent of the money was returned and we’re still waiting for the rest.”

Mr Wilmott joined the Equitable Members Action Group with other affected customers who are pushing for the government to take much-needed action as soon as possible.

The group has the support of south Swindon MP Robert Buckland, who wrote to chancellor of the exchequer Sajid Javid about the issue.

A spokesman for Mr Buckland said: “Robert has had a reply from the chancellor on this matter and will be communicating its contents to the Equitable Life policyholders soon.”