Wills criticises trust’s Stalinist approach
The “bureaucratic procedures” of the charitable trust have been compared to those of Joseph Stalin by trustee Jonathan Wills.
Dr Wills comments follow a meeting of the charitable trust yesterday, where he said he was concerned about trustees only being allowed to reject or accept reports without having the option to amend aspects they find troubling.
In a press statement provided after the meeting Dr Wills elaborated on his stance, where he also drew comparisons to Joseph Stalin and the USSR.
He wrote: “At [Thursday’s] charitable trust meeting I again raised what I regard as a wilful misinterpretation of the administrative regulations, which is preventing any trustee from moving an amendment to recommendations from the trust administration.”
He asked for “details of the administrative regulations upon which this ruling is founded” and was told there were two relevant clauses.
• “No business shall be transacted at a meeting of the trust other than that specified in the summons relating thereto”.
• “Four clear days before a meeting the agenda paper for the meeting shall be sent to the trustees of the trust, and no other business, unless the chair judges it urgent, shall be brought before the meeting”.
Dr Wills remains perplexed why that prohibits amendments.
He said: “Neither of these clauses makes any mention whatsoever of how such properly advertised business is to be discussed, debated and decided. This disagreement is not about what should be on the agenda: it is about how it should be dealt with.”
Dr Wills goes on to say that if trustees had “rejected” yesterday’s report, such a move would have an adverse effect on the trust’s ability to disburse money, effectively delaying a decision on the budget until the next quarterly meeting.
He adds: “The present arrangements effectively preclude any amendments at all. It is no exaggeration to observe that this procedure exactly follows the bureaucratic procedures used by Stalin to impose his will upon the Politburo of the USSR.
“If present practice continues, I do not see how we can convince any potential trustees, whether directly elected or not, that their attendance at trust meetings is for any other purpose that to create a cosmetic fiction of democratic procedure when handling over £230m of public money; a stage-managed charade, in other words, in which no self-respecting person would wish to be involved.”
Trust chairman Bobby Hunter said, however, that there were legal constraints which meant amendments could not be made to reports brought before trustees.
Mr Hunter said: “I’m acting on the legal advice given by lawyers.”
Keith Massey, chairman of the trust’s audit and governance advisory committee, said: “The issue of amendments to recommendations has been raised previously, and the trust’s audit and governance advisory committee is currently looking at it to address the concerns of Dr Wills and other trustees. We expect to report before the next trust meeting.”