Farepak victims angry at silence one year on

Farepak victims today hit out at the absence of compensation payouts on the first anniversary of the Christmas hamper firm’s collapse.

Farepak victims today hit out at the absence of compensation payouts on the first anniversary of the Christmas hamper firm’s collapse.

It came as the creditors’ committee warned that no cash payments were likely to be made before this Christmas.

Farepak allowed people to save for festive hampers and vouchers.

But it left an estimated 150,000 savers about £40m (€57.4m) out of pocket when it went into administration.

Today Louise McDaid, who chairs the Farepak Victims Committee, and who lost about £400 (€574m), said: “We’ve not had a single penny from the administrators at all, which we find very distressing.

“At no point have we even been contacted to let us know what’s been happening.

“When you look at Northern Rock, within days of that the Government made an announcement that they would be guaranteeing people’s money. A year down the line and we’ve not had anything like that.”

She added: “There’s still a feeling of total anger. The reason this happened was because there was no regulation and the Farepak Victims Committee believes that the Government has a responsibility in this.”

Ms McDaid, from West Kilbride, Ayrshire, has now put her cash into a local credit union.

But she said: “We still want to know where our money has gone and how they were allowed to take our money.

“It’s about time answers were given and about time the Government did something and recognised its responsibility in this.”

Suzy Hall, who is campaign co-ordinator with customers’ group Unfairpak, and sits on the creditors’ committee which has been set up, said many victims were now resigned to the fact they could expect only limited compensation.

This is likely to be about five pence in the pound on the money lost.

But Ms Hall said any payments “will not be for months yet and not before Christmas”.

She said: “What people really want to know is what happened to the money.

“Now that the liquidator is in position, he can investigate the collapse and if there is any evidence of wrongdoing then action can be taken.”

Livingston Labour MP Jim Devine, who has been campaigning for victims to receive cash payments by Christmas, this week called for the minutes of a meeting which Halifax Bank of Scotland held with Farepak last February to be released.

“I understand that this meeting was called to address the financial straits that Farepak were experiencing,” he said.

“It’s outrageous that following the meeting the company went on taking money from thousands of hard-working families if they had an indication of the impending collapse.”

He added: “The people of the Livingston constituency and hard-working families across the UK are all asking the same question – where did our money go?

“They are entitled to an answer.”

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