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Spanish Secrets: Without Prejudice

Craig Briggs is left with a deep sense of being unjustly accused after a large white envelope is delivered to his home in Galicia.

A postal delivery earlier this week contained a curiously heavy, large white envelope. Its opening brought some very upsetting and distressing news.

Our lives here in this remote part of Spain are far more tranquil and much less stressful than those we left in England over three years ago. Because of this, problems that occasionally occur assume a greater significance.

The envelope contained 31 pages of documents relating to the alleged
mis-selling of an endowment policy.

Between 1987 and 1990 my occupation was as a sales associate within the financial services industry. Specifically I was an insurance agent for Allied Dunbar Assurance.

Amongst its sales associates Allied Dunbar had a reputation for the quality of its training and its ethical approach to selling. Within this self-regulated industry, Allied Dunbar stood out as a pioneer for operating standards and procedures.

I was proud of my position and proud of the company I represented.

I was shocked and dismayed to think that advice I’d given, could have been misconstrued to the point where someone would complain. After carefully studying all the documents and racking my brain in an attempt to recall this unfortunate couple, I was left completely blank.

With only 14 days in which to respond in writing, three of which had already passed, I rang Allied Dunbar. The person dealing with the complaint was not in the office but a message would be passed on.

After a sleepless night and countless re-examinations of the documents, I phoned again the following day. I explained my failure to recollect the events of a meeting which had taken place over 16 years ago. At this point in the conversation, the self professed impartial arbitrator began subjecting me to an interrogation, suggesting possible scenarios that may have taken place.

My upset and distress turned to disbelief and anger. A slanderous allegation had been made questioning my personal honesty and integrity. The company responsible for instilling me with strict ethical practises was distancing itself from any responsibilities. I had phoned with genuine concern, looking for help and support, and was left feeling betrayed and vilified.

The performance of those responsible for the care and investment management of other people’s money has been a dramatic failure. Honest, hardworking sales associates are now being branded as thieves and fraudsters because of their catastrophic incompetence.

After completing the call, my mind drifted back to a discussion which had taken place in the pub on my last visit to England in May. The subject of the discussion was endowment mis-selling.

A friend had just received over £20,000 compensation for alleged mis-selling, and was explaining the claims procedure to another. At the time I was pleased that rogues within an industry I’d been associated with, were being brought to account. How ironic.

With this in mind it seemed likely that others sales associates had also been accused. Perhaps help and advice was available. I went onto the Google search engine on the internet and typed in the words, “endowment mis-selling - legal advice”.

8960 entries, page after page of, “No Win, No Fee” vultures, lining their pockets and the pockets of their clients, by making slanderous allegations against mainly honest, hardworking men and women.

Not one company could help or advise me.

I then decided to contact as many former colleagues as I could to see if they were aware of anyone that would stand up for our rights.

I was absolutely astounded!

Without exception everyone I spoke to had been accused of mis-selling and every accuser had received financial compensation. We were all guilty until proven innocent.

How can it be possible that every person who has ever sold an endowment policy is guilty?

Sixteen years ago who within the industry could have envisaged, that every agent in the country would be guilty of mis-selling?

I’m now resolved to answer my inquisitors as honestly as I can, and reluctantly accept this smear on my character. Perhaps in another 15 years I’ll have the opportunity to restore my personal integrity and sue all those responsible for these slanderous and distressing allegations.

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