The gear cable was badly frayed in the handle system, where it bends through 90 deg. I had to cut it to remove the cable...but in doing so, the tip with the cable end (about 10mm long), has moved on round the corner and on into the lower part of the handle where it is very inaccessible. I am able to get hold of the cable end with pliers but unable to pull it back, even with the gear changer set in it's highest gear because the nipple is stopping it. Any ideas? Do bike engineers in UK shops take these brifter gear levers apart or do they just advise replacement?
If I understand correctly, you have access to the end of the cable coming out of the shifter, but not the end inside the shifter, with the metal cylinder. To get access to the cylinder end, you need to pull on the cable end with pliers and then click through the gears until it is in what would be the smallest cog. At this point, you should be able to peel back the hood to grab the cylinder (maybe with needle nose pliers or a sharp spoke) to pull it through.
I've done this with a RSX shifter. It was a full on dismantle and rebuild to get the mushroom out, because it had wedged and the wire stubs splayed out stopping it from shaking loose.
The real solution is to periodically change your gear inner cables when using brifters. If shifting starts getting really tenuous, that's your warning to change the inner.