Equitable Life inquiry may give new hope to a million policy holders

Sir Robert: We’ll try to find who’s to blame

Brussels, 2 February 2006 -- The European Parliament will today open its inquiry into the collapse of Equitable Life. It is the first European Parliament Committee of Inquiry to be set up since 1997, when the Parliament’s investigation into the BSE outbreak led to the creation of the European Veterinary Agency.

Around a million Equitable Life policyholders – who have seen their prospects of compensation ebb away – will be looking to MEPs for a glimmer of hope that their grievances will finally be redressed and those responsible for the collapse of Equitable Life will be brought to account.

Sir Robert Atkins MEP, deputy leader of Conservative MEPs, has suggested the committee will invite British government ministers from the Treasury and DTI, EU officials and managers from Equitable Life. The committee must issue a full report within a year but an interim report will be published before the summer.

Speaking at the opening of the committee, Sir Robert said:

“This special committee will have the power to call for people and papers, to visit the countries most affected, to hear the grievances of the policy holders affected and to make recommendations to Parliament.

“We expect nothing short of full cooperation from whoever we invite to the committee. That could include Ministers and European officials.

“British Conservatives led the way in demanding a European Parliamentary Special Committee on the Equitable Life mess and I was instrumental in persuading the Petitions Committee to initiate the process.

“We want to know if there were managerial failings, if the British government did enough and if there were contraventions of EU law. I also hope we will be able to propose better safeguards that could be put in place to prevent a similar debacle.”

Top ↑