Attorney-General will not oppose High Court's Wedgwood Museum ruling

Artefacts can be sold off to pay creditors after the Wedgwood Museum Trust went into administration

Dominic Grieve
Dominic Grieve

The Attorney-General, Dominic Grieve, will not oppose the High Court’s decision that the Wedgwood Museum’s home artefacts can be sold to pay off pension debts.

A spokesman for the Attorney-General’s office said Grieve did not believe the trial judge’s interpretation of the law could be challenged and that he had taken into account the campaign by Alan Wedgwood, a family member, to save the collection.

A judge ruled in December 2011 that the museum’s collection could be sold after the Wedgwood Museum Trust, based in Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire, was forced into administration by a £134m pension deficit. 

The trust, which owns the museum’s collections, went into administration last year after the transfer of the pension debt from the collapse of the Waterford Wedgwood pottery firm, which became insolvent in 2009.

The trust had five employees enrolled in Waterford Wedgwood’s 7,000-member pension scheme. However, because the trust was not in administration when the company collapsed it became potentially liable for Waterford Wedgwood’s entire £134m debt.

The trust was put into administration so that the pension plan could seek support from the Pension Protection Fund. The PPF is the trust’s main creditor.

A spokesman for the PPF said it "would not want to see the collection needlessly sold off" and was working with administrators and others to "find the best way forward".

The insolvency specialist firm Begbies Traynor is acting as administrator for the trust.

A spokesman for the Attorney-General’s Office said: "After careful consideration of the judgment in this case and after taking advice from specialist senior counsel, the Attorney-General has decided not to appeal.

"The trial judge gave the issues before him careful consideration and the Attorney-General does not believe his interpretation of the relevant law could be challenged. He has also taken account of the representations made by Alan Wedgwood."

Alan Wedgwood, a descendant of the firm's founder Josiah Wedgwood and president of the Friends of the Wedgwood Museum, has written a letter to the Daily Telegraph arguing for the museum's collection to be preserved.

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