Strengthening vested interests (Peter Hamilton)

How curious the select group looking at the future governance of Shetland Charitable Trust should say there needs to be a large number of handpicked placemen in order to prevent the trust being “dominated by interest groups”. Given the natural run of these things it will be Shetland Islands Council’s ruling clique who will get their way when choosing their “independent” trustees.

It isn’t so long ago that the notion that councillors are best placed protect Shetland’s trusts from being “dominated by interest groups” was last put to the test. SIC councillors handpicked the independent trustees on Shetland (Salmon Group) Development Trust. Untold millions of pounds were then lost in salmon-fishy dealings and trustee councillor directors Angus and Cluness nearly lost their seats.

What a pity current trustees lack the courage to consult on a variety of future governance proposals. Instead they use their power to promote their preferred fix while distorting the legal opinion they were given. You could tow a salmon cage through the gap between Roy Martin QC stating he knows of no legal impediment to trusts having some councillors serving as trustees and the advice given by the McFadden commission that councillors be limited to a third on trusts, lest they dominate. If the goal is to strengthen vested interests in Shetland there could be no better fix than allowing the councillors on the trust to choose their own guards.

Another begrudging, hasty, muted and plainly partial sham consultation which most rational folk will ignore for fear of lending it any credibility.

Peter Hamilton


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