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Donington MC, Dominator 2012 and Commando 2012 pension schemes: Regulatory intervention report

This report outlines how we prosecuted a former owner of Norton Motorcycles for illegal investments and banned him from being a trustee.

Case summary

We prosecuted Stuart Garner, the former owner of Norton Motorcycles, for three offences of illegally investing nearly £11 million from pension schemes under his control into his own business. He was given a suspended prison sentence and, in separate enforcement action, banned from being a trustee.

After pleading guilty, Mr Garner was sentenced to eight months’ imprisonment in respect of each of the three charges, suspended for a period of two years. He was also disqualified from acting as a company director for three years and ordered to pay costs of £20,716.

In breach of employer related investment (ERI) rules, Mr Garner transferred nearly all of the £11.5 million of member funds from Donington MC, Dominator 2012 and Commando 2012 pension schemes, into Norton Motorcycles. The investments were unlawful in each case because their value exceeded 5% of the market value of the total resources of each scheme, which is contrary to pensions law.

In addition to prosecuting Mr Garner for breaching employer-related investment restrictions, we prohibited him from being a trustee and used our powers to appoint an independent trustee to have exclusive control of the three pension schemes.

The independent trustee we appointed pursued Mr Garner for more than £15 million compensation for members, following a finding of serious maladministration by The Pensions Ombudsman (TPO). This was a factor leading to Mr Garner’s personal bankruptcy.  


Mr Garner was the sole trustee of three pension schemes (Donington MC Pension Scheme, Dominator 2012 Pension Scheme and Commando 2012 Pension Scheme), which invested in Norton Motorcycle Holdings Ltd (Norton Motorcycles). The investments were made in return for preference shares issued by Norton Motorcycles, for which Mr Garner was both the director and majority shareholder. He was also the owner and director of the scheme’s principal employer, Manorcrest Limited. This was significant, as it meant Norton Motorcycles was “connected and associated” with the employer.

The schemes were run on a day-to-day basis by the scheme administrators. T12 Administration Ltd had been appointed by Mr Garner to establish and administer the schemes. Mr Garner later appointed LD Administration Limited as the schemes’ administrator.

Members joined the pension schemes by transferring their pension assets into them from other unrelated pension schemes.

The pension schemes were marketed to members as an investment in the Norton Motorcycles business. They were restricted from withdrawing any funds for a period of 24 months from the date they transferred, and charges were levied if they withdrew funds within the first five years.

Between April 2012 and December 2013, a total of 255 members transferred into the schemes from other pension arrangements.

During the period of his sole trusteeship of the schemes, Mr Garner failed to comply with certain fundamental governance requirements. As set out in our statutory notice appointing an independent trustee, failures included:

  • the requirement to appoint a fund manager
  • the requirement to obtain investment advice
  • the requirement to appoint an auditor and obtain audited accounts
  • the requirement to have regard to the need to diversify pension scheme investments

Regulatory action

We were first alerted to concerns from pension scheme members about the pension administrators, T12 Administration Ltd, in 2013. The whistle-blower reports were in respect of a number of pension schemes, including those of which Mr Garner was a trustee. In line with our processes at that time, we recommended the whistle-blowers pass on the information to Action Fraud, which is the UK’s reporting centre for fraud and cyber-crime.

Between 2011 and 2014, we appointed independent trustees on an emergency basis to a number of the pension schemes managed by T12 Administration. Mr Garner initially appeared willing and able to work with us to rectify governance failings. We prioritise protecting members in schemes most at risk and so we did not appoint an independent trustee to run Mr Garner's schemes at this time.

In March 2017, we opened a case into the Donington MC, Dominator 2012 and Commando 2012 pension schemes. Mr Garner had transferred a total of nearly £11 million from the three schemes into Norton Motorcycles in what appeared to constitute three breaches of ERI.

The case was opened in response to new whistle-blower reports alleging a potential conflict of interest in relation to Mr Garner’s positions as the trustee of the schemes and the owner of Norton Motorcycles.

Following a request from South Wales Police, we initially limited our inquiry. This was to avoid jeopardising an active police investigation which was already underway, and in which Mr Garner was a witness. Once the police matter was concluded, we expanded our investigation.

We contacted Mr Garner in February 2018 to press him to voluntarily step down and be replaced by an independent trustee. Mr Garner was evasive and slow to act and we used our statutory powers in May 2019 to appoint an independent trustee, with exclusive control of the three schemes.


Our focus then turned to prosecuting Mr Garner. After reviewing all the available evidence, we focused on building a case against him for three ERI breaches (one for each of the three schemes). An offence of ERI carries a maximum sentence of two years’ imprisonment and/or an unlimited fine.

A prosecution for ERI may be pursued where a trustee has agreed to make investment(s) in breach of the ERI restrictions (in this case investments exceeding 5% of the market value of the resources of the scheme in a body associated and connected with the employer). ERI is a strict liability offence. It does not require intent or dishonesty to be proved.

While our remit does not extend to investigating wider financial or corporate criminality, we continued, throughout our investigation, to evaluate whether evidence we held to build our case supported other breaches or charges, including for fraud offences in relation to the three pension schemes. We determined that a prosecution against Mr Garner for ERI offences represented the strongest case we could support with the evidence we had.

Once we had sufficiently robust evidence that Mr Garner had breached ERI restrictions, by transferring nearly £11 million of the £11.5 million of member funds from the three schemes into Norton Motorcycles, we began prosecution proceedings in the summer of 2021.

Court hearing and sentencing

We charged Stuart Garner with three offences of ERI and in February 2022 he pleaded guilty to all charges at Derby Magistrates' Court. The case was then sent to Derby Crown Court for sentencing after we submitted that the magistrates’ court did not have sufficient sentencing powers.

Derby Crown Court heard how the ERI offences related to the three pension schemes, which were left with a combined shortfall of £10 million due to Mr Garner’s actions.

In evidence presented as part of our sentencing submission to the court, we showed:

  • that the offence was committed for financial gain by way of injection of capital into the business, in particular that the schemes were set up exclusively for the purposes of investment into Norton Motorcycles
  • the harm caused to multiple victims who suffered financial loss and severe personal impact

Mr Garner was sentenced to eight months’ imprisonment for each of three counts of breaching ERI restrictions, to run concurrently and suspended for two years. He was also disqualified from acting as a company director for three years and ordered to pay costs of £20,716.

In her sentencing remarks, Her Honour Judge Shant, told Mr Garner that, while she gave him full credit for his early guilty plea and acknowledged he had not made any direct personal benefit from the investment, his actions had been reckless and caused profound harm to his victims. This was both financially and to their mental wellbeing. She noted that Mr Garner’s victims had reported problems sleeping, relationship difficulties and some now faced the prospect of having to work longer than they had expected because of his crimes. The judge also noted the harm caused by the impact of Mr Garner’s actions on public confidence in pensions and pensions savings.


Following the ERI prosecution, we then took action to prohibit Mr Garner from acting as trustee of any pension scheme. This came into effect in September 2023.

As set out in the Determination Notice, our Determinations Panel found that Mr Garner was not a fit and proper person to be a trustee of trust-based pension schemes. In particular, the Panel found Mr Garner lacked the requisite integrity, competence and capability to hold the role of a trustee. This prohibition means that it would be a criminal offence if he were to act as a pension scheme trustee at any point in the future.

Working with other agencies

Throughout our investigation we worked in tandem with a number of agencies, which also investigated and took action in respect of Mr Garner’s activities.

South Wales Police

South Wales Police asked us to postpone taking overt action, including interviewing Mr Garner, until its investigation had concluded. Mr Garner was a witness in the police investigation. We worked with the police from 2017 to understand the nature of its investigation and how it might overlap with ours.

Leicestershire Police

Leicestershire Police consulted us and other relevant agencies in 2020 after receiving a number of allegations about Mr Garner, including in respect of the pension schemes. We supported Leicestershire Police by providing them with information we had obtained in our investigation. Leicestershire Police subsequently stated it would not be taking further action.

The Pensions Ombudsman

From mid-2019 to late 2020, TPO shared information with us to support our inquiries and kept us updated on its investigation into allegations it had received from members of the three schemes. We shared intelligence with TPO to support its case in respect of Mr Garner and, following a TPO hearing, which Mr Garner failed to attend, TPO reached a finding of serious maladministration in June 2020.

Following that finding, TPO ordered Mr Garner to pay compensation to scheme members and on the strength of the payment order, the independent trustee we appointed issued a demand requiring Mr Garner to pay approximately £15.7 million. The sum is higher than the funds initially transferred to Norton because it factors in additional amounts including interest.

Independent trustee - Dalriada

We appointed an independent trustee, Dalriada, to the three schemes in 2019. Supported by us, it is currently working towards securing compensation through the Fraud Compensation Fund (FCF) for scheme members who have lost their pension savings. It is also currently working with Norton Motorcycles’ liquidators and Mr Garner’s trustee in bankruptcy to pursue claims.

Dalriada has continued to keep members updated on the progress of its recovery work, including informing members that when it is in a position to submit formal applications to the Fraud Compensation Fund, it will do so on behalf of them collectively.

Fraud Compensation Fund

As the FCF (which is managed by the Pension Protection Fund) is a last resort, all other available sources of recovery must first be exhausted (to the extent it is reasonable in terms of time and proportionate in terms of costs).

The FCF has decided in principle that it considers there are reasonable grounds for believing that there has been dishonesty, as required by legislation. This is a key milestone in the FCF process and Dalriada has informed members of this update.


In addition to our successful prosecution of Mr Garner, he is now banned from being a trustee of any pension scheme again.

Following the conclusion of our enforcement actions, we are continuing to work with and support Dalriada, the independent trustee we appointed, while they work towards securing compensation for the victims of Mr Garner’s actions. This includes in respect of claims to the FCF.

Our approach

This case demonstrates our risk-based approach. It shows we will use the powers that we have to stop wrongdoing that puts savers most at risk, taking enforcement decisions which offer the best opportunity for justice and ultimately financial redress for victims.

It also serves as a warning that we may take enforcement action against trustees who flout the law and put savers at risk. The actions of Mr Garner have ruined lives and we will use all the powers we have to prevent and prosecute employers and trustees who ignore or neglect the interests of savers.

In addition to being prosecuted, handed a suspended prison sentence and banned from being a company director and a trustee, Mr Garner has lost his business, become bankrupt, and suffered damage to his reputation. The case shows the seriousness of breaking pension rules and that we will take action to bring unscrupulous individuals to justice.

Crucially, the case also shows that while other agencies, with our support, continue to work towards achieving financial redress, it takes time for the compensation process to complete, and can mean a significant wait for victims.

The nature and complexity of the case meant a multi-agency approach was essential, and this case demonstrates the importance of working together. Throughout our investigations and to date, we continue to support and provide information to the numerous agencies working to return lost savings to victims.