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Ombudsman finds no basis for Govt’s rejection of Eq Life report

Parliamentary Ombudsman Ann Abraham has branded the Government’s response to her report into the Equitable Life collapse as “deeply disappointing” saying it provides insufficient support for the rejection of her findings.

Abraham’s report Equitable Life: a decade of regulatory failure was published in July 2008 and a further report Injustice unremedied: the Government’s reponse on Equitable Life has been laid before Parliament this week.

In her report published in July 2008, Abraham found the Government guilty of maladministration and said it should establish and fund a compensation scheme for the victims who lost money in the collapse of the life office.

But the Government’s response rejected the Ombudsman’s recommendations to fund an independent and speedy compensation scheme.

In her latest report, Abrahams says she is unconvinced by the basis for the Government’s rejections of her findings and is concerned by its decision to ask Sir John Chadwick to advise them on an alternative compensation scheme.

She says there is no detailed timetable for this work and says the link between maladministration and the remedy to be provided has been broken.

The Ombudsman says: “The Government’s response to my report was deeply disappointing. It provided insufficient support for the rejection of my findings of maladministration and injustice. It also begged a rather larger question as to what the purpose of regulation was supposed to be.

“Whatever the outcome of the work to be done by Sir John, it is clear that not everyone who has suffered injustice will be eligible for a payment and that not all of the injustice suffered will be put right.”

Equitable Members Action Group spokesman Paul Braithwaite says: “How much longer can the Government fly in the face of decency and continue denying Equitable Life victims? Now is the time for MPs, regardless of party, to support their own Ombudsman and the sufferers of the injustices found by the PO.

“With the Ghurkas, Parliament has shown it has moral fibre and teeth when something is manifestly wrong. We hope that MPs will do the same for us and the next step must be for Parliament to hold the executive to account in the wake of the Ombudsman’s damning new report. Ann Abraham has done everything that she can – now it’s down to Parliament.”

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