THE battle for compensation for thousands of former Northern Rock shareholders will have to go to the European courts after an appeal bid was denied.
Judges at the Court of Appeal who had dismissed an attempt to overturn the Government’s “zero return” compensation scheme yesterday refused any appeal against the decision.
Investors left without a penny after the bank was nationalised had argued the Government’s efforts so far were “unlawful, unfair and manifestly disproportionate”.
When that case was turned down they had hoped they could appeal the decision and force the Supreme Court to become involved.
Instead the country’s highest judges have declined to hear their case, saying the shareholders’ battle “does not raise an arguable point of law of general public importance which ought to be considered by the Supreme Court at this time”.
Now the shareholders’ group have said they will take a last throw of the dice and go to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.
Last night Dennis Grainger (pictured), who has lead the group, said: “This is not at all totally unexpected as the British Judiciary is never too keen to undermine a British-made law, albeit legislation which was rushed through every Parliamentary stage in a couple of days.
“We were committed to arguing our case in the Supreme Court but their decision not to hear the case for fairness means we have exhausted all our domestic remedies.
“The way is now clear for our campaign to save at least a year’s time, effort and huge costs by going straight to Strasbourg.”
The shareholders’ latest upset comes after judges agreed in July with Government barristers who said that without the £54bn of taxpayers’ money poured into Northern Rock, the bank would have collapsed and shares been worthless.
The case was brought by two hedge funds, SRM Global and RAB Capital, and up to 200,000 private shareholders.
Mr Grainger said these regular shareholders who were rewarded after the then building society became a bank were never “playing the market” and called on the Government to recognise the damage done to ordinary families.
He added: “Up to 200,000 ordinary people, a great many of them elderly, have been robbed, plain and simple.
“Their share property was expropriated by a Government who then took legal steps to ensure that no compensation would ever be paid. Northern Rock’s shareholders were cast adrift while other shareholders in solvent banks have been allowed to keep their shares despite far greater support from the Government.
“Certainly, we will fight on until there is no more fighting to be had. We are determined to succeed in being treated fairly as this is all we have ever been asking for.”