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Power-seeking rebels in the executive of the Scottish
region of the NBA prepare to break away from the UK body
Teviot Scientific, Cultybraggan Farm, Comrie,
Filed 21 May 06
The Scottish Farmer of 20th May 2006 reported
on its front page:
NBA breakaway: Scots set up new cattle body"
It is a sad day for the Scottish beef industry.
It reflects very poorly on the actions of a small but very hard
core who were elected as the executive of the committee representing
the Scottish members of the National Beef Association.
The key culprits are:
aided and abetted by some individuals who had
previously served on the executive.
The SBC is the name given to the Scottish region
of the NBA, which is a UK organisation representing all regions
within the UK. This arrangement is good for Scottish beef producers
as it gives them direct access to the Scottish Executive, as well
as making their views known to defra and to Brussels through NBA
The current HQ for the NBA is at Hexham, Northumbria
which is also good for the Scottish members. There can also be no
question that the NBA has been highly effective in getting across
to the media and to policy makers - both in the UK and in the EU
- the concerns of the UK beef industry, as they variously affect
different regions of the UK. All regions benefited from the pooling
of resources to create an effective organisation. The Scots in particular
had the best of both worlds - as I say, representation at the partially
devolved Scottish Executive and also representation at a national
level - and all for a subscription of £50 per year. What more
could they want?
Sadly, the answer is that a small number of very
selfish individuals wanted more power for themselves, and they set
about it by manufacturing mischief. They have been doing so for
almost 12 months. No doubt they will regard the announcement in
this week's The Scottish Farmer as a victory. But it is not good
news for those - the Scottish members of the NBA - whom they are
supposed to have been representing.
I was elected to serve on the committee of the
SBC and have attended every meeting until, after the one held at
United Auctions Perth on 6th April this year, I resigned in disgust
over the manner of the proceedings (1).
In my view, the primary source of the trouble
is Keith Redpath (2). He was the
sole Scottish representative on the NBA Board. As far as I was concerned,
his initial reports back to the SBC committee were a cause for concern,
relating as they did to possible financial problems and an alleged
lack of proper governance. But when the NBA Board responded by incurring
one-off costs to reorganise and relocate the HQ office to Hexham,
and to introduce an improved accounting system, Keith Redpath's
descriptions of the Board meetings escalated in their condemnation
of the parent body. Indeed, in my view, his credibility came to
be seriously questionable. But his reports about the unsatisfactory
nature of the NBA Board, and all sorts of unminuted allegations
about individuals, were accepted and encouraged by members of the
Grotesque demands were made to the NBA Board by
its Scottish representative, with the backing of the SBC executive,
and by John Cameron in particular. These included the demand that
Keith Redpath must be chairman of the NBA, and that the NBA must
produce audited accounts within a ridiculously short period of time.
Scottish members were encouraged in a circular letter from the Scottish
chairman, Patrick Lambert, not to pay their subscriptions to the
NBA but to the SBC. Certain members of the SBC executive refused
even try to recruit any new members in a drive by NBA HQ to increase
membership of the NBA and thereby improve its financial situation.
My impression is that members of the SBC executive were not as helpful
as they might have been in discussions with the breed societies
in terms of their support - or otherwise - for the NBA .
While the SBC executive were busy talking to the
press about the perceived financial problems of the NBA, it is alleged
that their own bookkeeping may not have been as transparent as it
might have been - especially in relation to a Johne's account handled
by Keith Redpath. It was alleged - and I understand that it continues
to be alleged - that the SBC owes the NBA a considerable sum. Certainly
the audited NBA accounts - which became available for all members
at the proper time - showed that the substantial losses that were
incurred during the last financial year were spread evenly between
the centre and the regions (3).
What also became apparent to me was that the executive
of the SBC were very keen to accuse persons within the NBA Board
or its executive over autocratic and arrogant behaviour. But the
way that the Scottish executive was behaving in that regard surpassed
anything I witnessed in relation to the NBA HQ. Furthermore, although
members of the SBC executive claimed to be in close and productive
contact with the Scottish Executive Environment and Rural Affairs
Department (SEERAD) - including talks directly with the Minister
- I seem to have heard very little about the content or the outcome
of such talks, either as a committee member or as an ordinary paid-up
member of the Scottish Region of the NBA. Certainly the NBA HQ could
not be faulted in terms of the quantity and the quality of its communication
with its members and the media.
In my view the way the chairman, Patrick Lambert,
conducted the meeting of the SBC committee on 6th April 2006 was
in serious breach of proper procedure, shouting down myself when
I tried to argue against what he wanted to achieve: i.e. the breakaway
from the NBA. Again, in my view, he opened the meeting from the
Chair with a totally biased statement against the NBA, and stating
that "he had put anyone right" who had expressed concern
to him by phone about the wisdom of breaking away from the NBA.
He waved a bunch of papers that he stated supported the breakaway,
but made no reference to those whom it is alleged remained firmly
against such a move and who had allegedly contacted him. This was
not a chairman who, in my view, was taking an impartial stand, looking
for the freely expressed views of his committee.
At the same meeting the conduct of the executive
towards the chairman of the NBA was, in my opinion, despicable.
He had come to the meeting on account of his concern to try to avoid
a breakaway by the Scottish members of the association of which
he is chairman. The SBC executive had not the courtesy to inform
him of the meeting. When he did arrive, they sent him out of the
room to wait in his car in the car park for an hour or so until
they let him in to answer their questions, and then made him leave
What the SBC had actually achieved was the detraction
of the NBA chairman from attending a meeting with Tesco's beef buyers
which he was due to attend along with the NBA Chief Executive, Robert
Forster. The SBC had been asking the NBA to "keep Robert Forster
in check". Ironically, the SBC executive had, by their own
actions, prevented the NBA chairman from doing just that, assuming
it was necessary in the first place. More importantly, they had
diluted the impact of the NBA in relation to the case it was making
to Tesco's in the interests of all the beef producers in the UK
- including those in Scotland - to get a fairer price for UK beef,
including the Scottish premium.
These were not the actions of an executive, along
with their other cronies within the committee, who were interested
in co-operating with the parent body. It was now patently obvious
that this group were after their own agenda: they had had no intention
of acting in a co-operative manner with the NBA, and never had over
the past 12 months. I came to what appeared to me to be the unavoidable
conclusion that it was all part of a prolonged and sick self-seeking
Much was made of the action taken by the NBA chairman,
Duff Burrell to give Keith Redpath the option of resigning from
the NBA Board or face a motion at the next NBA agm that he should
be removed from the Board - an action supported by a majority vote
by the NBA Board (4). Howls of
artificial protest from the SBC executive was the result, though
from their behaviour they should have expected little else. With
the backing of the SBC executive (and it has to be said by much
of the SBC committee who may not have been properly informed) Keith
Redpath refused to resign.
So instead the SBC committee, under the guidance
of its executive, made demands to the NBA that Scotland needed 3
representatives. The SBC executive added for good measure that the
total number of members on the board must not increase above 11.
This of course would give Scotland a disproportionate number of
members on the Board, which would not be compatible with the proper
governance of the organisation. Of course the SBC executive knew
that and were simply behaving inexcusably.
Following the SBC committee meeting on 6th April
2006, Chairman Patrick Lambert wrote to all Scottish members of
the NBA (5)
"At a meeting of the Scottish council on
the 6th April the situation was discussed, and in an effort to
maintain unity it was unanimously agreed by the 18 committee members
present, to forward a proposal to elect three Scottish representatives
to the Main Board and that the Board would urgently address the
unsustainable financial position. The Committee also agreed that
if this proposal were not acceptable then the Scottish Region
would have no choice but to take steps to establish an autonomous
Scottish Organisation to represent beef producers in Scotland.
This motion was proposed by Mr John Cameron, the Scottish Region’s
President and seconded by Mr Iain Mathers of Kintore,
But unfortunately for Patrick Lambert, Iain Mathers
took the view that he had been seriously misrepresented in the Scottish
chairman's letter. So much so that he, Ian Mathers arranged through
the NBA HQ for a letter from himself to be circulated to the Scottish
membership correcting the situation (5).
In particular he denied ever seconding a motion as described, and
accused the SBC executive of adding in the condition that the number
of NBA Board members must not increase above eleven, whilst still
insisting that the number of Scottish Board members be increased
to three. I was present at that committee meeting and would support
the statements made in the letter written by Iain Mathers.
Let us hope that at the NBA egm, also to be held
tomorrow at Hexham, Keith Redpath is indeed removed as a Board member
and as a Director of NBA. In view of the determination of the executive
of the SBC to breakaway and form a separate organisation this may
appear to be a little academic, but nevertheless is an important
What is also to be hoped is that a decision
will be made to reconstitute the committee of the SBC as soon as
the present disruptive lot have taken themselves off elsewhere and
1. Irvine, James (2006). My resignation
from the committee of the Scottish BeefAssociation.
See SOCIAL/ECONOMIC/POLITICAL Homepage, filed 08 Apr 06, www.land-care.org.uk
Click Here to View
2. Irvine, James (2006). The regrettable
actions of the Executive of the Scottish Beef Council towards the
National Beef Association.
See SOCIAL/ECONOMIC/POLITICAL Homepage, filed 30 Mar 06,
Here to View
3. The audited accounts
of the NBA to the year end December 2005.
4. Gillanders, Eddie (2006). Showdown
looming as NBA row comes to a head.
Reproduced with permission from April 2006 issue of Farm North East
See SOCIAL/ECONOMIC/POLITICAL Homepage, filed 18 Apr 06,
Click Here to View
5. Irvine, James (2006). The disruptive
behaviour of office bearers within the Scottish Beef Council towards
the NBA must stop
See SOCIAL/ECONOMIC/POLITICAL Homepage, filed 30 Apr 06, www.land-care.org.uk
Here to View
5. Mathers, Iain (2006). Letter
circulated to all Scottish members of the NBA (The Scottish Beef
Council) Click Here to View pdf