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

Press Releases: 21/10/2003 - EMAG backs the Equitable's board, saying that the case against 15 former directors MUST go to a full trial

21 October '03 - Press Release: EMAG backs the Equitable's board, saying that the case against 15 former directors MUST go to a full trial

EMAG says the case against former directors must go to trial to ensure that the truth is revealed. There should be no gagging "deals".

EMAG (the Equitable Members' Action Group) is at one with the board and agrees wholeheartedly with what chairman Vanni Treves said on Friday 17th October: "In the interests of policyholders we have a duty to proceed."*.

"Despite the high costs, the board has recognised that it is a worthwhile case as many of the former directors are extremely wealthy. With Vanni Treves at the helm and two directors from the legal profession on the board, the Society went into this with its eyes open. EMAG holds the view that the previous directors had a fiduciary duty to the owners and should be held to account for their actions and inactions." Alex Henney, Chairman of EMAG

The case against former directors has involved a huge sacrifice, costing policyholders far more than the 3 million or so legal expenditure thus far by Equitable. This litigation has very effectively silenced 15 of the people who actually knew what went on. Lord Penrose will have encountered an understandable eerie silence. Penrose's threat of naming and shaming for non-co-operation can have been of little consequence to individuals looking bankruptcy in the face. In any event Penrose, conducted behind closed doors, is subject to Maxwellisation and 'sanitisation' by the Treasury.

Paul Braithwaite, General Secretary of EMAG said:

"If you had a 3 billion suit hanging over your head, would you have volunteered evidence to Lord Penrose? Only a full trial will ensure that the truth will finally emerge, through witness statements, testimony and cross-examination. The truth, above all, is what is owed to impoverished annuitants, policyholders and the public. At least in court the long, controlling arms of the Treasury won't be able to preserve its Machiavellian wall of secrecy and hide its own culpability."

For further information contact:
Paul Braithwaite, General Secretary of EMAG

* Vanni Treves quote on Sat 18th Oct in both Daily Telegraph and F.T.

Notes for Editors:

  1. EMAG, along with Ron Bullen's EPHAG, was the prime mover in the quest for compensation. When Vanni Treves was appointed chairman of Equitable Life on 1st March, 2001 he said he would pursue anyone, given satisfactory evidence. Within three weeks EMAG submitted a substantial file prepared by lawyers, known as "the smoking gun dossier". In consequence, Vanni Treves appointed solicitors Herbert Smith to the task.
  2. Lord Penrose was commission by Ruth Kelly, Economic Secretary to the Treasury, to prepare a study for The Treasury into the events surrounding the closure of the Equitable Life in December, 2000 and "learn lessons for the industry." Despite expectations that the report would be published in the summer of 2002, there is as yet no sign of the Inquiry having yet delivered to the Treasury or any indication of when it will be published.
  3. EMAG believes that all policyholders (past and present) are entitled to compensation from government for regulatory failure. The Parliamentary Ombudsman's Report (30th June, 2003) acknowledged that "the die was cast" pre1999 but categorically refused either to look further or to look back. EMAG has lodged a legal claim seeking a Judicial Review to overturn the Ombudsman's Report.
  4. The nine former non-executives include president John Sclater, with more than 20 directorships at the time, Peter Davis, a former director general of the National Lottery, Peter Sedgwick, the ex-chairman of Schroders, and David Wilson, the chairman of Wilson Bowden, the housebuilding company.