Veteran allowed to keep overpayments

AN army veteran who feared having to pay back £24,000 in pension money has been told he can keep the money.When 36-year-old Darren Clements learned he was one of 98 ex-servicemen affected by the Ministry of Defence(MoD) mistake, he feared he might have to pay back overpayments spanning a ten-year period.

Laurence Cawley

AN army veteran who feared having to pay back £24,000 in pension money has been told he can keep the money.

When 36-year-old Darren Clements learned he was one of 98 ex-servicemen affected by the Ministry of Defence(MoD) mistake, he feared he might have to pay back overpayments spanning a ten-year period.

Mr Clements, of Mildenhall, left the army after sustaining an injury 10 years ago and in January this year, Mr Clements, who runs a pest control business, received a letter from the MoD claiming he owed £23,850 to the pension fund.

The clerical error only emerged during a review of the 49,000 Armed Forces Pension Scheme files. The review showed 98 people had been overpaid, in some cases of amounts approaching £90,000.

But last night the MoD confirmed the Treasury had agreed to write off the overpayments for all 98 former service personnel affected.

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The news was met with elation by Mr Clements, a former member of the Royal Artillery, and his wife Tracey.

“That is just great. If it wasn't for the press and people reading newspapers saying how outrageous it was I really don't think they would have written it off. They've done the right thing.

“I was sitting there thinking how would we pay this back and then I thought to myself why should we? It was not our mistake.

“We were all medically discharged and this would have been completely unfair. I'm still down that I lose the pension but at least I don't have to pay it back. It is a weight of our minds.”

Mrs Clements said she was delighted by the news.

A spokeswoman for the MoD said: “HM Treasury have now confirmed their approval for the waiving of the recovery and subsequent writing off of the 98 cases for overpayment. We apologise for the errors that arose.

“The letter to that effect will be sent by March 20.”

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