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Delay in Ombudsmans report branded disturbing

The announcement of a further delay to the Parliamentary Ombudsmans report into the collapse of Equitable Life has been branded disturbing by the group of MEPs involved in a separate inquiry.
Parliamentary Ombudsman Ann Abraham has written to MPs saying her report will be delayed until at least May next year, taking the total length of the inquiry to nearly three years.
Abraham says in the letter, the further delay has been caused by her team uncovering the fact potentially vital information was missing from the evidence given to it.
Abraham says the evidence was received in July and August and since then the team has been working to analyse the significant number of files and documents.
The letter states Abraham has seen nothing to suggest this was anything other than as a result of a misunderstanding.
Chair of the European Parliament committee looking into the providers collapse Mairead McGuinness says the delay is unfortunate as the committee was relying on Abrahams evidence as part of its own inquiry- due in April 2007.
The Irish MEP says she accepts comments from the Ombudsman that the provision of this missing evidence arose from a misunderstanding but that it does require questions to be answered as to exactly why the misunderstanding arose.
Diana Wallis MEP, who is preparing the committees report says: I am surprised that such extensive and potentially critical information has until now been withheld by the Government. This so-called ‘misunderstanding’ is unfortunate to say the least. The European Parliament’s Committee of Inquiry will consider the implications of this delay at its next meeting in November and will continue to carry out its mandate, regardless of this development.

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