Monday, 3 August 2015

Who Killed FREEDOM? – update 4 – August 2015

REGULAR readers will recall this series began as an analytical report on the destruction of FREEDOM, the world’s oldest radical newspaper. Further investigation revealed that the Board of Trustees (FFP) legally responsible for safeguarding the newspaper was as seriously dysfunctional as the FREEDOM collective.

Our immediate fear was that having closed down the paper in 2014, the collective would sell off the FREEDOM PRESS building and walk away with a million pounds to use as they wished.  Unless we could quickly reactivate FFP there was nothing to stop them and they were already discussing the idea.

UPDATE THREE briefly outlined the decline of Friends of Freedom Press (FFP) and reported our successful campaign to have it re-constituted.  As our ultimate aim was always to restore intellectual, ethical and political integrity to a re-launched FREEDOM newspaper we chose not to emphasise individual responsibility for the fiasco of FFP.  On 24th June 2015, the first meeting of the newly reconstituted FFP recognised that without the Northern Voices' campaign FFP would have languished.  However, Richard Parry, one of the individuals involved now rejects that view, claiming, 'If anyone was pushing to get FFP working it was me!'

Parry challenges our account and accuses Northern Voices of inaccurate reporting so we will now analyse his response. (To minimise blame and antagonism we identify individuals only where essential and apologise in advance for necessarily tedious detail).

1.             As a qualified solicitor, Mr Richard Vyvyan Tristram Parry, of R P Legal Consulting Ltd knows the procedure that must be followed to be appointed as a Director to the Board of a legally constituted Company registered at Companies House is a formal process, prescribed by relevant sections of that Company’s “Articles of Association”.

2.             To be appointed a Director of 'The Friends of Freedom Press Ltd' (FFP) is a process prescribed by section 43 of FFP’s Articles of Association, to be specific:
'No person other than a director retiring at the meeting shall unless recommended by the directors be eligible for election to the office of director at any general meeting unless, not less than three nor more than twenty-one days before the date appointed for the meeting, there shall have been left at the registered office of the Company notice in writing, signed by a member duly qualified to attend and vote at the meeting for which such notice is given, of his intention to propose such person for election, and also notice in writing signed by that person of his willingness to be elected.'

 3.             To be appointed a Director of FFP Parry would first have had to be formally proposed in writing by a serving Director.  He would himself have to sign that proposal form which had then to be left at FFP’s registered office, within that prescribed 3 to 21 day window. That time scale was specified to ensure all Directors received due notice to attend the relevant meeting.  At the due meeting a quorum had to be met and a minute book maintained.  Parry maintains, 'If there was any impropriety in my election as a 4th Director it was in the failure to tell me about it'. Extraordinary, it would clearly be impossible for anyone to be properly nominated, let alone elected in accordance with Section 43 and yet remain ignorant of the fact.

4.             When Mr Parry’s name was forwarded to Companies House in February 2012 he had not been properly appointed and wasn’t even aware his name was registered until I informed him so in an email six months ago.  In his email reply he expressed genuine surprise yet he now pretends all was well except nobody told him that he’d been “elected”.

5.             In fact, there was no election in 2012 to ratify his 'nomination'.  As we noted previously, there were then only three registered Directors and as recently as six months ago, two of them confirmed that they had no knowledge whatsoever of the appointment of a Mr Richard Parry.

6.             Parry’s name was improperly registered, the other Directors know it and so does he. As we sought a positive outcome I wrote to him 'in a private capacity' to offer him an opportunity to quietly withdraw his claim (of 3.3.201) to represent a Board of which he was not even a member, without publicly losing face.  Regrettably he preferred to raise the stakes and sent the letter on to the FREEDOM collective (see previous post for Mr Meinke’s role).  If the rest of the Board had allowed this flagrant abrogation of their proper responsibilities to continue we would indeed have had no option but to alert Companies House to prevent the subsequent disposal of FREEDOM’s assets.  Fortunately wiser counsel prevailed.

7.             Parry, similarly, insisted we redirect any nomination of Dr David Goodway for Board membership to the FREEDOM collective for prior approval (hardly a requirement of section 43). Where we wanted FFP to get a proper grip on the aberrant activities of the collective, Parry tried to engineer precisely the opposite result.

8.             Just as the FREEDOM collective refused to recognise its dysfunctionality until the newspaper finally collapsed, Parry would have Northern Voices' readers believe only trivial problems existed at FFP and these were already in the process of being resolved by application of his own efforts and expertise.  The truth is rather different.

9.             FFP was utterly dysfunctional. AGM’s are mandatory but hadn’t been held for years.  Proper minutes didn’t exist and when one Director, in March 2015, repeatedly asked the Company Secretary for a copy of the FFP Articles of Association (AA) they were not forthcoming. Parry claims AA can be obtained from Companies House, as indeed they can, but members of functioning groups should not be required to apply to external bodies (in this case NV) for copies of their own rulebook.

10.           When Parry disingenuously wrote to me on 3rd March 2015 'in my capacity as a Director of FFP' he did so without the prior knowledge or approval of the longest serving member of the FFP Board, yet he infers his action was legitimate because he subsequently sent her a copy of the letter.

11.           Parry had no need, or indeed proper reason, to 'track down' any of the three legitimate Directors as he claims, for every Company Secretary is obliged to maintain an up-to-date contact list of Directors. If any tracking down was required, it was the Company Secretary’s responsibility. In fact, we communicated with all three legitimate Directors without difficulty.

12.           Following our intervention, Parry belatedly realised he could only hope to regularise his position if the three legitimate Directors met and agreed a way forward. We were happy to accept a Board that included Parry if the nominations of David Goodway, Ernest Rodker and similarly respected candidates were also given proper consideration.  That general strategy was agreed at the 30th March 2015, FFP meeting and a reconstituted Board of ten Directors was subsequently formed on 24th June 2015. As we previously reported, 'A victory for common sense'.

13.           In Update Three we employed the term 'rumbled' advisedly.  When faced with wrongdoing, as anarchists we always try to first positively appeal to people’s common humanity, if that doesn’t work we point out the negative aspects of exposure, if the culprits remain obdurate we are left with no alternative but to reveal the seamy side of individual behaviour.  We identified the dire state of FFP, appealed for positive change and deliberately kept our power dry to allow sufficient opportunity for FFP with the help of others to reconstruct itself.  At every stage Parry spurned our efforts to quietly reform the moribund Board and insisted on antagonism.  Even now, he appears to reject the Board’s judgement that the discomfiture of our campaign was the prime mover in reconstituting FFP.  We never sought to pillory individuals, not even Mr Parry, but neither were we prepared to remain silent and collaborate in the destruction of the FREEDOM heritage that took anarchists a century to establish.

14.           It is ironic that Richard Parry criticises NV reporting as more than one correspondent observed that only on the Northern Voices website can anyone discover what’s going on at FREEDOM.   Neither Mr Parry nor his friends in the collective have reported a word about developments at FFP but we are happy to host Mr Parry’s response and continue to carry his critique alongside our own account so readers can judge the facts for themselves.

15.           Even at this late stage, Richard Parry might yet reach down deep into his psyche and locate that light-hearted humanity that once prompted him to creatively contribute to “XTRA!”, one of the wittiest anarchist magazines ever produced.  Perhaps Richard, in his newly legitimated role, might now concentrate on restoring intellectual and ethical standards to FREEDOM which in October 2014 celebrated the newspaper’s demise with a final issue bearing the inappropriately triumphalist words of collective member, Andrew Meinke;

'Kropotkin might have started it, but we fucking finished it!'

Christopher Draper, Llandudno (August 2015)

1 comment:

Carlos Figueroa said...

Thank you Brian for the information! I understand the situation. Best and good August

Carlos figueroa