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: 15/07/2002 - to Vanni Treves

38 Swains Lane
N6 6QR


Mr. Vanni Treves
Equitable Life Assurance Society
c/o Macfarlanes
10 Norwich Street
London EC4.

15th July, 2002.

Dear Treves,

As you are probably aware the previous Board was not well regarded by the media. You had an opportunity to build a new relationship, but you and Thomson have blown it by your continued attempt to obfuscate and spin of which the drivel in the letter from McGaraham is but the last in a year's worth. I might be tempted to think that the claim that "some of the information you request is beyond that which might be reasonably expected etc." is an insult to my intelligence when most - if not all - of the information is recommended either explicitly or implicitly by the FSA's with-profits review and/or Sandler. (Perhaps given your 20 odd other directorships you have not had the time to look at these documents). Instead I take it rather as a demonstration of the stupidity of those running the Society, and of the contempt with which you regard members other than those who doff their caps to you, and in their naivety tell you what a good job you are doing.

You staged managed the AGM successfully. You doubtless satisfied the majority of attending, who I suspect were financially ill-informed and came to be reassured that the Society was not going to fold under them. The financial journalists who attended are not so naïve as many members and could see that behind the smiles you were not answering the questions put to you; that you and your colleagues not only gave misleading answers (one of which was picked up in the FT on 5/6); and you treated with arrogant disdain the petition of nearly 20,000 members. As one commented to me afterwards - "I despair of them; if I were allowed to, I would write advising all those who can get out to do so". No amount of Burson-Marsteller will offset obfuscation spin, and a slovenly attitude to accuracy. As I said before, your claim to "openness" is cant - it is a "travesty" of the truth.

I have drafted a paper titled "Obfuscation, misinformation, spin and cant" which sets out the record for all to see. It will go the rounds soon.

I copy this letter to the members of the Board and to various journalists.

Yours sincerely,