UK - Express Newspapers and Telegraph Media Group have accused each other of being "irresponsible" as the dispute over the West Ferry Printers' Pension Scheme deficit continues.
The Daily Express yesterday said a letter published by Murdoch MacLennan, chief executive of the Telegraph, was “misleading, and an attempt to deflect adverse publicity for the Telegraph”.
The newspaper was responding to assurances in MacLennan’s letter, addressed to West Ferry scheme members, that it had committed to the scheme’s trustees, and to all staff, that it would honour its our obligations.
The clash relates to the Telegraph’s plan to move its newspapers from the West Ferry print works where it is 50/50 partners with Express Newspapers. At the time the decision was made, actuaries assessed the pension scheme deficit to be £66m.
MacLennan said the Telegraph had been working to secure the funding of the pension scheme, since it announced its intention to end the printing contract with West Ferry.
He said: “Although the end of the contract is still nearly two years away, we have already agreed to make an additional contribution of £8m to your scheme this year towards the shortfall.
“We intend to continue to work actively with your trustees and their advisers, and we have been co-operating with the Pensions Regulator. This will be an ongoing and thorough process to make sure that your interests are protected.”
However, in a report on the issue, the Express insisted that the Telegraph had neither made nor agreed to make any such direct contribution to the scheme.
It said: “It has merely acquiesced in West Ferry making limited contributions to the scheme from its own inadequate resources.”
It added the Express had agreed to fund its half of the scheme’s deficit, but the Telegraph had made no such commitment.
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