David Prosser: Justice for Equitable Life moves closer

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The Independent Online

Outlook Many congratulations to the doggedly determined Equitable Members Action Group, which has won yet another victory over a government that has attempted to frustrate justice – both natural and legal – at every turn.

EMAG's successful legal challenge to the way in which the Government proposes to compensate victims of the Equitable scandal (or more correctly, not compensate 90 per cent of them) will force ministers to think again. They have three weeks to do so after yesterday's judgment, but it really shouldn't take that long to dust down the recommendations of the independent Parliamentary Ombudsman, who last year called for a properly funded compensation scheme for the benefit of all those who lost out in the Equitable affair.

Let's hope the Treasury does the decent thing this time. Goodness knows, its record of ignoring all inconvenient verdicts against it – handed down by the Ombudsman, the courts, and several committees of MPs – is shameful enough already. Too many Equitable victims have already died without receiving compensation, while many more are suffering financial hardship that could have been alleviated years ago.

Still, the signs are not good, with government lawyers yesterday clinging to one part of the ruling, which accepted it is for Parliament to work out the detail of how to pay out compensation.

True, but the ruling also makes it clear the settlement must reflect the findings of the Ombudsman, many of which the Treasury has always rejected. And Parliament has already given its verdict – a majority of voting MPs have signed an early day motion calling on the Government to drop its limited compensation scheme.