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Yorkshire pub chain Sam Smith's chairman fined for pensions scheme failing

A traditional scene of a shire horses drawn dray, belonging to the Old Brewery at Tadcaster was founded in 1758 and bears the name of famous local brewer Samuel Smith. It is both the oldest brewery in Yorkshire and the only surviving independent brewery in Tadcaster.
A traditional scene of a shire horses drawn dray, belonging to the Old Brewery at Tadcaster was founded in 1758 and bears the name of famous local brewer Samuel Smith. It is both the oldest brewery in Yorkshire and the only surviving independent brewery in Tadcaster.
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A brewery owner and his pub company have been fined for failing to provide pension scheme information on time.

Samuel Smith Old Brewery and its chairman Humphrey Smith were fined £18,750 and £8,000 respectively at Brighton Magistrates' Court on Monday, the court said.

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Smith, 73, was charged following an inquiry by The Pensions Regulator into the North Yorkshire-based pub chain last year which was started in order to understand the funding position of some of the brewery's pension schemes.

Criminal proceedings were brought against the Tadcaster company after it failed to meet a January 26 deadline this year for providing the relevant information, the regulator said.

Smith was charged because the offence by the company was committed with his consent, connivance or neglect, the pensions watchdog said.

Smith, who was not in court, and the company were also ordered to pay a total between them of £1,240 in costs and victim surcharges, the court said.

In May, both the company and Smith pleaded guilty to neglecting or refusing to provide information and documents without a reasonable excuse under the Pensions Act 2004, the regulator said.

The company provided the necessary details several months later but criminal proceedings had already been launched, it added.

Samuel Smith Old Brewery was established in 1758 and is more commonly known as Sam Smith's.

Said to be Yorkshire's oldest brewery, it operates around 200 pubs across the UK, according to its website.

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The Pensions Regulator can force pension schemes, employers and third parties to provide it with information and documents under section 72 of the Act.

Failure to respond to its demands is a criminal offence and can result in an unlimited fine.

Nicola Parish, of the The Pensions Regulator, said: "Mr Smith and the brewery could have avoided this fine and a criminal conviction by simply complying with our notice requiring the information to be provided.

"Our ability to request information is a necessary part of our regulatory toolkit and we take it very seriously when parties do not co-operate with us.

"People who ignore our notices asking them to provide information should expect us to launch a criminal prosecution.

"As Mr Smith has discovered, becoming compliant with our requests after a court summons has been served will not halt criminal proceedings."