I read with considerable interest the posting of Tom Quinn, the Campaign Director of The League Against Cruel Sports on the Charity site, Civil Society.
Straight away, I drafted a rebuttal of his simplistic analysis and sent it to Civil Society, who, to date, have not posted it. It was a carefully calibrated piece and evidentially structured, so why it was not published is beyond me. I could not let Mr Quinn’s piece remain unchallenged .
Members of League Staff, present and past, brought to my attention some serious allegations relating to governance and bullying at the League, including allegations of sexually inappropriate language. Some of this has appeared in the Press, but to date certainly not all of it.
I felt that as President of the Charity I had a duty and a responsibility to bring it to the attention of the Chair, Iain Blake Lawson and all the other Trustees.
Ultimately I was permitted to attend the Finance and General Purpose Committee meeting, although as the Chair reminded me, I had no right to attend as President unless invited by him. He duly invited me.
Within hours of being invited, Mr Blake Lawson called me to terminate this invitation for no explicable reason.
I immediately drafted an email which I sent to all Trustees informing them that the Chair was preventing me attending the meeting and told them that I had received a number of serious allegations which I would like to discuss with them. Not a single Trustee replied.
I continued to protect and represent the position of the Whistleblowers and fearlessly fought for their information to be investigated and brought to the attention of Trustees. There was a perception amongst a number of Staff past and present, articulated in a number of ways, including statements in my possession, that the League were not listening to them.
Indeed, at this time a proposed comprehensive staff survey was stopped by Mr Blake Lawson.
I would not be deterred from helping some employees who I considered courageous. One employee who spoke out supporting me after my removal as President was internally disciplined and threatened with summary dismissal and so I became very protective of these people.
In November I received a completely unexpected and brief letter informing me that I was “no longer President of the League Against Cruel Sports”, essentially saying that Trustees had decided to review all honorary positions in the Charity. On the 16th December at about 20.50, Lorraine Platt the League Vice Chair telephoned me and during that conversation told me that she had cautioned the Chair and Trustees about my removal and had in fact, voted against it. She added that the reason for my removal was that I had pressed the cause of the whistleblowers. I should add that no other honorary positions have been reviewed or altered.
Earlier in November, Mark McCormick, League Communications Officer had messaged me on Facebook, which I still retain, stating in terms,” With Joe gone the campaigns team is flourishing with successes and Rachel is now going also. None of this could have happened without [the whistleblowers]….” Strangely, only a few days ago he was talking quite differently and using the terminology of Mr Quinn in his article, perhaps he had forgotten about his earlier message to me.
I had also spoken to Tom Quinn in a lunchtime meeting last year, when I informed him of staff concerns and the existence of serious allegations. I invited him to take a position on it, but he never got back to me.
This is the essential background to this sad affair which is necessary since Mr Quinn has decided to opine on the Civil Society site.
He seems to assert that all the allegations in The Times are politically motivated and seems to rely on an axis of conspiracy between the Murdoch press, the Tories and John Peel [not the disc jockey]. This analysis is flawed as it is childish and is better suited to the student debating chamber than real life. In fact the allegations were originally contained in a piece in The Observer, hardly a Murdoch minion and to date, not a right wing orientated paper.
Mr Quinn hides behind the important cause that the charity represents to avoid dealing with the issues and falls back on the cliché of ‘hatchet job’. He fails to deal with the accusations in any substantive form and certainly presents no documentary evidence to substantiate his financial rebuttal. May be we will see it soon. The Charity Commission will certainly have a wealth of documentation from the whistleblowers.
The concluding paragraphs of Mr Quinn’s piece crying Tory right wing attacks could not be further from the truth. And as for the journalistic friends that Mr Quinn says he has spoken to……I will not bother to comment.
In all, these are serious allegations which were not addressed………well they are not going away, and yes, for the good of the animals and leaving the League as an effective, experienced player in which we can all have confidence.