From Anne-Marie Fyfe, former Chair of Board of Trustees
So many of you, including press, have contacted me (since my questions at Friday’s EGM and since Judith Palmer’s statement on Tuesday mentioning my issue with the Trustees) asking for explanations, that I’ve put together a very brief summary (sorry I can’t answer you all personally).
Late at night after the pivotal 13th April meeting (about which you will have read in Paul Ranford’s statement and Judith Palmer’s statement) Chair of Trustees, Peter Carpenter, phoned me to demand that he be allowed to use a short e-mail note I’d sent him asking what was distressing Judith. He was afraid that night that changes they’d forced on her at the meeting could lead Judith to claim constructive dismissal and (as part of what the Board has since recognised as a “gross over-reaction”) said he needed to have use of that e-mail—showing Judith had attempted to contact me—to use against her as a supposed “breach of confidentiality”, should she ever take legal action. I refused permission. After a hectoring, bullying phone-call he gave up, apologising profusely some days later for his behaviour and promising not to use the e-mail.
The Board says it became “increasingly evident” Judith had revealed the contents of that 13th April meeting to me. She hadn’t. And they can produce no evidence that she had. But the accusation suits the Board’s purposes in allowing them, before and since her resignation, to hold over her the fabricated threat of legal action. And despite the assurances of one Trustee, both that the Poetry Society could never stoop so low, and that she’d been personally promised the accusation against Judith would be dropped, the threat was subsequently repeated and reinforced in a lawyers’ letter (which refers to me no less than five times!)
Laura Bamford, as Acting Chair, now says that the Board were unable to keep their promises, (although she will not explain why) and the Trustee in question has since resigned. (She was, incidentally, shown, by fellow Trustees, what purported to be a copy of the lawyers’ letter, but which strangely omits the “breach of confidentiality” accusation and omits the five references to me.)
After three months of denials, the remaining Trustees have now suggested, faced with detailed exposure of their fabrications, that I meet with them so they “fully understand events from my perspective”. Absurd. And totally pointless. They have all the e-mails.
This is just a small strand, I know, in such an appalling mess, but the Board’s reluctance to admit this one falsehood used against the Director, shows how desperate they were to clutch at anything, and failing that, to invent accusations, to force her to comply with, and keep silence over, the new “arrangements” they knew would be totally unacceptable to any Director or to the Membership. All symptomatic of a much wider climate of secrecy and culture of manipulation.