MEPs investigating the Equitable Life collapse have attacked the Financial Ombudsman Service’s treatment of complainants.
The Equitable Life Committee last week heard evidence from Lord Neill, who has co-authored a report on how the FOS treated Equitable Life policyholders and described it as “unhelpful, unnecessarily argumentative or even aggressive”.
Lord Neill told MEPs that the FOS failed to be independent in dealing with the issue and showed partiality both to the industry and the FSA.
But the FOS has slammed Lord Neill’s report, claiming its findings are “unfair, unbalanced and inaccurate” and that it was refused the right to respond to the allegations.
Committee member Diana Wallis said: “This report strengthens our impression that while we have black-letter law in terms of directives that open up markets to financial services to the benefit of the large corporations, when things go wrong for consumers the remedies are soft, fluffy and difficult to negotiate.”
An FOS spokesman says: “It seems ironic that a report that appears neither impartial nor properly representative of the views of people who brought complaints to us about Equitable Life should accuse the ombudsman of being unfair, simply because we cannot always tell those with complaints what they would like to hear.”