The independent action group for current and ex Equitable Life policyholders, funded by contributions.

Equitable Members Action Group

Equitable Members Action Group Limited, a company limited by guarantee, number 5471535 registered in the UK


12 December '02 - Minutes of the 25th meeting of EMAG Committee

Held at: RAC, Pall Mall, London

Present: Alex Henney, Paul Braithwaite, BettyMcCann, Colin Slater, Rodney Allen, Leslie Seymour
Also present (part): Allan Asher, Campaigns Director of The Consumers' Association
EMAG members: Chris Canaghan, Peter Sterry, Gabrielle de Pauw and Sir Jeremy Lever
Apologies for absence: John Newman, Tom Lake

1. Treasurer's report: Circa £100,000 unfettered, with nearly 9,000 paid subscriptions. A further mail shot will take place to members before Christmas. The letter was circulated, with the "SHIRTS to MPs" appeal as lead item plus update.

2. EMAG member Gabrielle de Pauw was formally unanimously seconded to the committee of EMAG, and thanked for sterling contribution to date.

3. Allan Asher, Campaigns director of the Consumers' Association made a presentation about the work of the CA. He developed the themes of where EMAG and the CA's interests are congruent. He went on to make a number of suggestions about highly targeted initiatives that he thought EMAG could embrace. (This item edited for tactical reasons.)

Allan Asher pointed out that FSA's dual regulatory responsibility for smooth running of the financial services industry (and funded by that industry) and also for protecting policyholders represent a conflict of interest, in which the policyholders' interest are unlikely to prevail.

4. Legal discussion: led by JL and RA. JL reported that he had received no replies to his letters to VT or CT. RA circulated an outline draft brief, embracing addressing Denton Wilde, EC, Section 65 etc. JL to progress discussion on briefing solicitors prior to seeking counsel's opinion. PB to liaise with RA. Preliminary five figure budget agreed.

5. AH reported on his letters to the FSA re major failings to protect our policyholders, governance issues, reluctance of EL to tell members basis of their values etc. PB pointed out that FSA appears to be facing the wrong way, leaning on IFAs but doing nothing re our policyholders' requests to compel ELAS to divulge information. Reported Sir Howard Davis' resignation, effective September 2003.

6. CS reported on progress on "forensic analysis" of ELAS report and accounts back to early 1990s. Study is sufficiently illuminating that committee authorised Burgess Hodgson to move to second stage study immediately, and were authorised to commission actuarial help ad hoc. Budget approved. This to form the bedrock of EMAG's formal submission to the Penrose Inquiry.

7. PB reported on the Ned Cazalet press conference and the unsatisfactory response received from P O, Ann Abraham. Agreed to renew efforts to pursuade her to change her decision re "waiting for Penrose".

8. Strategy. A group discussion aired committee's views. Consensus of three core strands: 1. Explore legal avenues apparently not being embraced by the ELAS board. 2. Influence the Society on Governance and mutuality. 3. Political activity to influence Government and MPs.

9. Governance. PB pointed out that ELAS board's Governance consultation required response by Dec 16th. Committee asked for an E mail out to all members to remind on limitations of board's proposals and to encourage responses. Agreed to drop previous EMAG suggestion of pre-requisite that directors must have ELAS policy funds of £25,000.

10. Political. PB was asked to explore appointing a political consultant to target influence.

11. International contacts. LS was authorised to act, via the EMAG website as facilitator to effect introductions for international policyholders. Committee rejected the idea, on advice from Jane Saunders, of operating any form of EMAG bulletin board.

AOB. Concern was expressed about the latest letter from ELAS re GAR rectification which has caused anxiety. PB to explore obtaining general professional advice. Committee thanked Mr C Canaghan and Mr P Sterry for attending and contributing.

Next meeting: RAC Clubhouse, Seagrave Room 6.45pm for 7.00pm on Tuesday 21st Jan 2003. Jackets and ties required. Any member wishing to attend, please contact PB at emagpr@yahoo.com in advance, please.

Gabrielle de Pauw and Paul Braithwaite
20th Dec, 2002