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Equitable probes negligence claims over annuities defeat

Equitable Life says it is prepared to take the FSA, the DTI, its directors and advisers to court if it finds evidence of negligence in its House of Lords defeat over guaranteed annuities.

Policyholders and action groups have told Equitable they have evidence of wrongdoing. Equitable says it will consider the evidence and take action against anyone found to be negligent if it believes it can win the case.

It says it will not rule anyone out from investigation, meaning the FSA, the DTI, auditor Ernst & Young and lawyer Denton Wilde Sapte are set to have their conduct scrutinised.

Former chief executive Alan Nash, former appointed actuary Chris Headdon and former chairman John Sclater will also come under scrutiny.

Equitable Life senior manager (public relations) Alistair Dunbar says: “We have asked for any evidence of wrongdoing and will seek legal advice on it. We have said from the start if there is a realistic possibility of obtaining redress we will pursue it but there is no point spending more money on legal bills if we will not win.”

FSA spokeswoman Deborah Fowler says: “Equitable has not said it has found any case of negligence as yet and we hope they will not find any grounds for them to take action against us. We only set the parameters within which firms operate, we do do not make decisions for the firms themselves.”

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