NEWS

Ex-MPs rethink legal action over pensions

The outrage expressed by the public and politicians at the revelation earlier this week that some 800 former MPs are suing for retroactive pensions appears to have prompted some of the retired deputies to consider dropping their claims.

Sources at the Court of Audit, which is handling the legal action brought by the ex-MPs or their surviving relatives, said that the first suit was dropped on Thursday. The widow of former lawmaker Spyros Plaskovitis lodged a request for the case to stop.

Court sources added that a number of other former members of Parliament or their relatives called court officials yesterday to inquire about the process for halting their legal quest.

Florentia Kaldi, a judge at the Court of Audit, told a parliamentary committee on Tuesday that some 800 lawmakers who served between 2003 and 2008 have sued. Their action is based on a 1975 law linking MPs? salaries to that the head of the Supreme Court receives. At various times since then, deputies? salaries have been increased, which has resulted in former MPs who receive a pension having their retirement pay increased. However, since 2003, parliaments have voted not to raise salaries.

In 2008, a former deputy sued for back pension pay and won. Since then five more retired lawmakers have won their cases. The news has caused embarrassment for the country?s politicians at a time of rising unemployment and public spending cuts.

It prompted all political parties to criticize the suits and Finance Minister Giorgos Papaconstantinou to suggest that he would pass a law preventing the claimants from ever collecting the money.

Sources said that the Court of Audit is currently in the process of ruling on the cases of four ex-MPs and three surviving relatives of former deputies. Judicial sources told Kathimerini that the simplest way of solving the embarrassment would be for all retired lawmakers to drop their suits.