16th November 2018
Established 1872. Online since 1996.

Why I’ve resigned from trust (Billy Fox)

Dear Dr Black,

Please accept this letter of resignation and also my apologies for my short tenure as a trustee of the Shetland Charitable Trust.

Upon taking office I began to form the opinion that the role of councillor and trustee are incompatible. I believe this relates to many of the issues dealt with in both positions but has been magnified since the transfer of Viking Energy Ltd from the council to the trust. Since then it is my opinion the Viking Energy tail has been wagging the charitable trust dog and the end result will be to the detriment of its beneficiaries.

For a trust which holds substantial funds for the benefit of the entire Shetland public I do not believe that due democratic process has been followed in the pursuance of the Viking Energy investment.  

My concerns heightened on 12th June (Viking Energy induction day), when trustees faced a three line whip of SCT legal and financial “experts”. I believe the legal advice evolved to fit the embarrassing circumstances which Viking Energy had found itself in and, in my opinion, none of it was unequivocal. At the end of the day legal advice is just that, the judgement and responsibility lies with the trustee – there is no comeback on the lawyers!

In my opinion, the project valuation was speculative with little meaningful detail until some searching questions were asked. Only then was discussion held on the considerable risk relating to the civil engineering challenges of building the windfarm, not to mention the narrowing window of opportunity with regard to subsidy etc. Also, in my opinion, it should be borne in mind development brokers do have a vested interest in talking up projects!

Taking all this into consideration and the pre-meeting public actions of our chair and vice-chair I could come to no other conclusion than to declare an interest on 28th June. My reasoning for that was expressed in a public statement which I have attached for your information.

Aside from my conflict of interest and judging purely as a trustee, I question if the Viking Energy investment passes the “charity test”? Relating to this and the question surrounding “public disbenefit”, I do not believe it does.

Whether or not the VE development becomes reality, I believe there will likely come a day when questions will be asked on the actions that have taken place over the last few years. I for one do not want to be implicated in something which I believe will go down in Shetland’s history as one of its sorriest and most damaging periods.

Billy Fox

Shetland Charitable Trust beneficiary

Brennek,

Quarff.

5 comments

  1. S M Burns

    I think he’s right about the roles of councillor and trustee.

    Reply
  2. Kathy Greaves

    ~When are new (independent) trustees to be elected?

    Reply
  3. Sandy McMillan

    Councillor Billy Fox is exact in what he says, it is just a pity the remainder cannot take a leave out of Councillor Fox book, especially Councillors Ratter and Wills, the pair of them are hell bent on destroying Shetland.
    Sandy McMillan

    Reply
  4. Jim Fraser

    Personally I’m disappointed that Billy can’t be part of SCT business, but I fully appreciate and respect his reasons to resign.

    The meeting last week aptly demonstrated that the SCT is still shambolic when it comes to Viking Energy matters, as it was with the previous administration. This situation does of course support the only agenda of both Ratter and Wills, which is unfortunately not to lead a Trust which is a benefit to all with the public respect that would bring, but to ensure continued financial support for the wind farm.

    I’m really surprised that OSCR didn’t step in again and stop this nonsense until all Trustees felt comfortable to take part in all matters regarding Viking Energy.

    Reply
  5. ian tinkler

    Billr, a true man of honour, it’s unfortunate; we are left with true men of straw.

    Reply

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