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

Correspondence: 28/01/2002 - to Andrew Walker, Lovells Solicitors
38 Swains Lane
N6 6QR

Mr. Andrew Walker
Senior Partner
Lovells Solicitors
65 Holborn Viaduct
London EC1A.
T: 020 7296 2000

28th January, 2002.

Mr. Charles Thomson
Chief Executive

Dear Mr. Walker and Mr. Thomson,

A disgraceful episode

When I sent her a copy of my letter to Mr. Tiner dated 25 January, Ms. Gabrielle De Pauw sent me two e-mails regarding her experience. The first dated 25 January commented:-

"RE your postscript, I loved the 'middle aged lady at Lovells' bit - in fact, I am 60 today!?a by-product of my Lovells experience (apart from seeing what miserable, obstructive bastards they are) - my right arm has been hurting badly ever since, and my osteopath confirms that it is a sort of repetitive strain injury, from someone unused to hours of writing by hand, sunk in low sofa, peering at and copying manuscripts written in blurry type placed low down?I had a lot of pain across my shoulders for several days after, but that went. My arm is still painful. I did in fact use my laptop for around twenty or so minutes at the end - I was told by one of the reception dragons that it wasn't allowed but I was fed up and said the lawyer who had come down initially though reluctantly, at my insistence, to explain precisely what was where in that huge file of ELAS stuff (and he wasn't exactly helpful, but rather vague, especially as to one of the appendices to the terms of reference which was not apparently available on the ELAS website) had told me I could. In fact I had asked him and he had grunted at me, so I took that as a 'yes'! Then I said to the dragon I was going to use it anyway, and she backed off."

The second dated 26 January added:-

"My daughter pointed out to me that I should have requested better facilities - but frankly, the whole atmosphere was so unfriendly I chose not to, for fear of being slapped down. I did ask the solicitor I first saw about photocopying and he said that could not be done, at which I asked what difference was there between photocopying or handcopying, as the thing was going to be copied anyway. He just repeated that photocopying was out of the question. I also fail to see Lovells' objection to a laptop - after all, it is silent and I am not using their electricity! I did take a camera with me but it would have been impossible to photograph sheets without it being seen as I would have needed to use flash - and then I reckon all hell would have been let loose. It would have been nice to have been offered a cup of something but that was the least of my worries - as a journalist for many years I have been in some difficult situations but this one made me absolutely bloody furious - to think that Lovells' fees are, in the end, paid by US."

I think you should both be thoroughly ashamed of yourselves for this disgraceful episode. You Mr. Walker for behaviour which is in appropriate in any circumstances, but doubly so to a member - hence owner - of a company from whom you are creaming £millions in fees. You Mr. Thomson at least as Chief Executive of the company which employs an agent who acted in this matter. I do not, however, know whether Lovells acted on their own initiative, or were acting in accordance with your instructions to make it as difficult as possible for EMAG to see the Independent Actuary's brief. Perhaps you will let us know. I trust you will apologise to Ms. De Pauw whose address and telephone details are as follows:-


I copy this to Mr. Tiner and others as before.

Yours faithfully,