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

Media Stories: 21/11/2002 - Letter from Alex Henney, chairman of EMAG. Published in the Financial Times

21 November '02 - Letter from Alex Henney, chairman of EMAG. Published in the Financial Times

"Failing the members of Equitable Life"


Once again you report atrocious news for Equitable Life members (November 18th). Once again the Financial Services Authority says: "Not us, guv". Yet a central reason for the Equitable mess is regulatory feebleness and failure by Government departments over the period 1994 - 1999.

Then in 2000 the FSA allowed Equitable to continue selling policies after the House of Lords decision, which meant that new members had to share in meeting the open-ended liabilities of those who had guaranteed annuity options. This was clearly inconsistent with their 'Policyholders' Reasonable Expectations'.

Labour's response has been lamentable. The Treasury set up an inquiry, under Lord Penrose, that is accountable to the Treasury. Although we have no doubt that Lord Penrose will undertake a thorough study, we have every doubt that the Treasury will allow publication of anything that is critical of the Government's responsibility for regulation. We are unlikely to see any version of the report before 2004. The Treasury is using the inquiry to keep the issue in the long grass. John McFall, the New Labour chairman of the Treasury select committee, is refusing to reopen hearings on Equitable.

Regrettably, the Parliamentary Ombudsman's office, which has 253 cases referred by MPs, is no help. That office has taken a year to fail to complete one case; it has refused to look back before 2000 at maladministration; and is also hiding behind Lord Penrose's inquiry.

The members of the Equitable Life are being stitched up by the Government. The lack of trust in pensions reported so vividly on Panorama last Sunday is hardly surprising.

Alex Henney
Chairman, EMAG