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Couple win back cash lost in bank crisis

A couple who lost their life savings when bank shares collapsed won them all back again in a successful appeal to the Financial Services Ombudsman, the High Court has heard.

But semi-retired vet Patrick Noel Buckley (69) and his wife, Helen, may yet face a Supreme Court battle to hang on to their €202,000 nest egg.

Their barrister Seamas O'Tuathail said yesterday it could take another three years.

High Court President Mr Justice Nicolas Kearns, threw out an appeal by Allied Irish Bank in July against the Ombudsman's decision directing AIB to pay back the Buckleys the €202,000 they invested in bank shares on AIB's advice.

President Kearns, in the High Court, yesterday refused AIB leave to appeal his ruling to the Supreme Court. But the bank is now considering asking the Supreme Court itself to rule it should hear an appeal of Judge Kearns's refusal on a point of law.

Financial Services Ombudsman Joe Meade last year heard that Mr Buckley, of Carrigaline, Co Cork, had sold his main veterinary practice for "the greater part" of €200,000.

He and his wife wanted to invest it to help pay their son Patrick's annual fees and expenses of €40,000 at Veterinary College in Edinburgh and had met officials of AIB in its Cork branch in August 2008 to discuss interest rates.

They claimed that an AIB consultant had advised them to invest their money in bank shares and, having been told that then Bank of Ireland Chief Executive Brian Goggins had just bought bank shares worth €2m, they invested €101,000 in AIB shares and €101,000 in Bank of Ireland shares.

Within months they had collapsed to less than 20pc of their value. An appeal was made to the Ombudsman who found negligence on the part of the bank and directed AIB pay them back their losses.

The bank's main defence was that Mr Buckley was an experienced investor and that both he and his wife had signed a Share Dealing Application Form.