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

Documents: 31/10/2002 - Notes on Meeting between EMAG and the Penrose Inquiry

31 October '02 - Notes on Meeting between EMAG and the Penrose Inquiry

Meeting held at the Inquiry's office in Waterloo, started at 4.00 pm and finished at 5.30pm

Attendees: Inquiry: Lord Penrose, Mr Hugh Burns (secretary), Mr Middleton (Solicitor), Tom Davis (Analytical team), Hannah Fitzgerald (legal support),

For EMAG: Paul B, Colin S, Leslie S, Alex H

Hugh Burns gave an overview of the structure of the Inquiry and its remit (see HB note). He stated that the Inquiry has a broad scope to search for evidence and identify issues. It is NOT aimed at identifying charges to be investigated. He refuted that the Inquiry is 'writing a history book' or is party to a cover up.

It was confirmed that the Inquiry's report would be delivered only to the Treasury, who would then decide as to what parts would be published (and when).

The Inquiry team listened to the numerous concerns of EMAG, expressed in robust terms. EMAG expressed frustration that several bodies (TreasCom, the ELAS board and the office of PO) were deferring progress or their own investigations, due to their intention to await the outcome of the Penrose Inquiry - without, in EMAG's estimation, just cause.

Lord Penrose replied that he could understand other bodies not wishing to duplicate his work. But he clarified that no papers or files supplied to his Inquiry can be passed to ANY third party - not even the P O. The P O's office would therefore only obtain the report in its final form as published by the Treasury.

Lord Penrose assured EMAG that the Inquiry was being conducted on the expectation that all the findings would be published, whilst he acknowledged that many papers had been supplied on condition of confidentiality which would have to be maintained.

He went on to emphasise that he was not restrained from criticising any body - governmental or otherwise - if he concluded that such criticism was warranted.

He stressed that the basis of his study was the written material provided, the vast majority of which had been provided by the Society. He does not have any preconceptions of what has happened, nor is he interested in the theories of conspiracy or otherwise from individuals! He will form his own view on the written evidence.

He advised EMAG that he had experience of four years as senior prosecutor in Scotland and then as a judge.

Lord Penrose would like to finish his report as soon as is practical. He hopes that it will be finished before the end of 2003. However, many people have expressed the wish to appear and Maxwellisation will inevitably cause delay. (Note: the subject of the timing of the report has been subsequently addressed by HB in his update note of Nov 29th)

Lord Penrose made particular reference to the situation of German policies with its complexity of two legislations being involved and indicated that this may have to be the subject of a subsidiary, subsequent conclusion.

EMAG stressed the human anxiety element of the problem and the many pensioners who are distressed and anxious about their future. AH also emphasised that time was of essence in view of the ageing of the policyholders.

Lord Penrose said he would appreciate half a dozen or so practical case studies to help to bring into the report the human element and not make it too judicially 'sterile'.

Lord Penrose added, subsequently, that if he found any evidence of criminal activity, he would be obliged to pass the details to the public prosecutor and to probably have to freeze his Inquiry.

Leslie Seymour and Paul Braithwaite
11th December, 2002