Wednesday, 4 August 2010
Jim Dowson breaks his silence
As you all know, there is a leadership challenge within the British National Party. I haven't touched on this story as yet. One thing I do know is that some members of the party are divided when it comes down to Jim Dowson.
Mr Dowson has taken the bull by the horns and increased the BNP's turneover from £165,000 in 2007 to over £2million in 2010.
It appears to me there is jealousy in the ranks and of course they are trying to smear Mr Dowson.
So far, Mr Dowson has ignored. Until now...
Jim Dowson has broken his silence on Michaela Mckenzie in a legal statement which forms part of a group legal action which has been launched against her.
LEGAL STATEMENT BY JIM DOWSON :
I carry on business as Midas Consultancy from Belfast and other offices throughout Europe.
1. I had dealings with Michaela Mackenzie on behalf of the British National Party. She was employed by the Party as an administrative assistant.
2. My involvement with the Party commenced in November 2007, when I was engaged as an overall business consultant to administer and deal with their business systems. I have 25 years of business experience and formed my business consultancy in 1999. The business operates from Belfast, from where the Party administration was directed by me. In addition to the general consultancy, I was engaged by the Party as their general manager from March 2008 until June 2009.
3. I understand that Michaela Mackenzie was engaged to work for the Party in January 2008 and that she initially worked from her home in Bristol.
4. At the time that I first became involved with the Party I arranged for certain members to attend managerial courses. The first of these was in February 2008 under the title of ‘Top Managers Make Things Happen’. This was a 3-day course incorporating several modules (including ‘time management’, ‘how to avoid arguments’ and several others). This course was held for Party members and employees in Valencia, Spain. The 3-day course was quite intensive, but all the expenses involved in attendance were paid for by the Party. This included Mrs Mackenzie’s expenses.
5. One of the systems which I initiated was the use of a staff work sheet. All employees of the Party were required to complete such a sheet as an act of discipline. Mrs Mackenzie was required to complete such a form also and some of these are included within the bundle of documents at pages.
6. Part of her duties insofar as I was concerned was to collate these worksheets from the various employees and report to me thereon. In addition, she had also been appointed (for a time) as the National Nominating Officer for the Party. This concerned the appointment of candidates on behalf of the Party and much of the function related to delegating the organisation of candidates to local officers.
7. As part of my organisation, we arranged for there to be staff meetings every few months; these were held at various locations. They were regarded as an opportunity for parties to ventilate any problems which they might have. As an aid to this, we issued ‘self-assessment forms’, which were designed for anyone who might be struggling with a particular matter.
8. I have to say, in my experience, there were a number of occasions when Mrs Mackenzie was upset about abusive comments from some of the staff. She was often in tears about this. However, my initial view was that, in view of the business experience which she purported to have, and as she had had adequate training with us, it ought to have been possible to overcome any such difficulties.
9. I was engaged by the Party under a consultancy agreement and details of this are in the contract at page 1 of the bundle. I was to receive 7.5% commission of the direct mail fundraising initiatives that I instituted on behalf of the Party. This figure was capped at £75,000 (£1,000,000 of party income) There was no arrangement for me to be paid extra commission or income because of the number of enquiries received from the public. Requests for information packs, etc were part and parcel of the dissemination of information, which was part of our management function and was already a longstanding party function.
10. As a part of the Party’s expansion, and with a view to participating in the European Elections in 2009, I arranged for the opening of a number of offices about the country. One of these was at Stroud which was opened in about February 2009. It was intended that Mrs Mackenzie would run this office. She had given the impression that she had extensive experience in business management and that she would be well able to cope with the administration involved.
11. There were frequent meetings between administrative staff and me including Mrs Mackenzie. I visited the Stroud office on about four occasions during 2009. On one occasion, in about April that year, I saw that there was a huge pile of letters which had not been sent out. The office had two employees, Lee and Donna Hancock, who worked under Mrs Mackenzie. Donna worked on a full-time basis but Lee was employed on a part-time basis. When I asked Donna about the letters she told me that there was no postage available to send them out (this meant that there was no credit facility on the office franking machine). I discovered that there was credit, but the reason for the problem was the single fact that there was no ink in the machine. Donna told me that she did not know how to deal with this, despite the fact that there was a printed notice on top of the machine giving instructions as to how to obtain and install ink, etc.
12. The result of this was that many letters, which should have gone out to interested parties (either as information packs, or for the promotion of the European Elections, or to members with new membership cards) had not been sent. Also the Hancocks were not able to ‘merge’ text onto party letterheads and were printing ‘finished’ letters in black and white, sent by the membership secretary. Therefore, there were many boxes of letterheads which required processing and producing as finished items. In fact, the cumbersome way in which the office staff was dealing with these meant that it was taking about eight minutes to print, produce and envelope each individual missive. These missives usually contained a letter, brochure, possibly a newspaper, a membership card and badge for those joining, all of which should have been put in an envelope together.
13. This was grossly inefficient and caused me great concern. I asked Mrs Mackenzie about these problems and she said something to the effect that she was deeply unhappy with the ‘stupid, lazy and dirty’ behaviour of Mr and Mrs Hancock. (By dirty, explained – leaving dirty cups about, and their unkempt personal appearance etc.) She stated that they were regularly late for work and often had a hangover when they did arrive.
14. The particular problems with the franking machine required some organisation to resolve, but this would have taken a day or two to complete. I therefore went out, immediately, and purchased £400 worth of stamps on my debit card so that the arrears of mailing could be dealt with at once.
15. On another occasion, the party chairman and I visited Stroud to try to motivate and inspire the Hancocks by offering help and training; we took them for a meal. We arranged that they would receive IT training the following day at Stroud to help them overcome their woeful knowledge of the most basic systems, i.e.: ‘word’, ‘excel’, etc. Unfortunately, they turned up late the next day at 10.23 (entry in my diary) and quite obviously much the worse for wear. Mrs Mackenzie made an excuse for Mr and Mrs Hancock, telling me that the reason they were late for work was that their car had broken down. However, she subsequently admitted (by 12 noon) to me that this was not the case and that she had told me this in order to make an excuse for them. It was after this that I sent two other Party members, to help clear the arrears and move things along efficiently. They came from Birmingham and spent a couple of days each week for about six weeks at about the end of April/early May.
16. I made about four visits to the Stroud office during about April/May 2009, when the European Elections were at their height.. There was another occasion when she was reprimanded for smoking in the office only a few weeks later by Simon Darby. I sent a letter to her warning her of this and the fact that it was illegal and a matter of gross misconduct.
17. One of my early visits to Stroud in or around the beginning of April related to the Stroud office being tasked with sending information regarding the European Elections. Mrs Mackenzie had given me the impression that she knew how to deal with pre-paid printed mail envelopes. This entailed bulk posting of documents to members/subscribers, etc. The bulk letters, when ready, then required a docket for each bundle of mail. It seemed, however, that Mrs Mackenzie was not familiar with this procedure and so I explained it to her again. I then learned that about six sacks of mail (equivalent to about 900 envelopes) had been prepared, but that no dockets had been submitted with them. The purpose of the docket is so that the Post Office can check the bundle of mail, verify same and charge it to our account. If there was no docket then the mail would probably become in effect ‘lost’. Apart from the fact that no docket had been prepared for this mail, I was informed, by Lee Hancock, that the sacks had not even been delivered properly to the Post Office but had been left outside the Post Office compound fence. I regarded this as being not only incompetent but also a serious security risk. There is no reason why our members or people interested in the activities of the Party should suffer the risk of having their names and addresses exposed by discovery through sacks of mail which – in all probability – might be undelivered, considered to be abandoned, and then thrown anywhere.
18. I took this up with Mrs Mackenzie but she did not seem to understand the seriousness of the problem. In effect, she refused to accept any responsibility for the errors which had occurred. I became quite exasperated by this and, eventually, I understand that Mark Collett (in charge of Party publicity) instructed Mrs Mackenzie on how to manage the docket requirement by dealing with it on-line. Altogether, there were about 30,000 letters which had to be dealt with in this way. It seemed from my experience that Mrs Mackenzie had not been aware of how to deal with these procedures. At this time other volunteers were in situ at the office, as I had lost all faith in the competence of Mrs. Mackenzie.
19. A further problem in the Stroud office was a new and expensive telephone `system (Siemens). The facility to use a loudspeaker (hands free) and to transfer calls between ‘phone receivers within the office was apparently beyond Mrs Mackenzie and Mr and Mrs Hancock, despite being shown how to operate it by the installation company. When Nick Griffin, the Chairman, came to visit the office this was obvious and was quite embarrassing. As a result of this I did call out Siemens to come and re-instruct the staff on how to use the facilities provided; altogether I think they came out about three times. Similar problems were recurring with the alarm system; the staff just could not understand how to use it. Again, I had to request the installers to return on several occasions to give appropriate instructions.
20. In addition to the above, a list of names and addresses were sent to Stroud on a PDF format (as nobody in Stroud, despite intensive training could master an excel spreadsheet merger format). There had been about 12,000 processed ‘phone calls requesting information about the Party (approximately 13,000 were still in the system). It only required the Stroud office to reproduce the necessary information re name and address; they could then incorporate this into a certain format, and would be able to reproduce letters/labels for appropriate information to be sent out to interested parties. It seems that understanding this system was beyond the capabilities of the staff at Stroud. This is why the Lumbys were put in place as well as other volunteers.
21. A further problem related to donations which were processed in the Stroud office. These donations were sent to Donna Hancock in batches, for her to make the necessary entries and thence obtain authorisation for payment of the contributions. I received calls from donors that some of the donations had not been taken from the donor’s bank account (one donation alone amounted to £2500.00). When I telephoned Donna about this she told me that the instructions had not made sense to her and so she had left it. It might have been that the reason could have been due to an incompatibility of the instructing technology with the recipient technology. I did ask her why she had not reported the problem to me so that something could be done about it. Instructions were given as to how to deal with these matters. Again, the failure to manage this office system effectively was, I felt, due to failings by Mrs. Mackenzie. I did try to instruct Lee Hancock on installing an upgrade to his computer over the phone but was told in a most aggressive manner to “fuck off! You don’t tell me a ******* thing Jim you’re not the boss.
22. Notwithstanding having tried to resolve the donation processing, the problem occurred again and I received calls that donations had not been taken. Once again I contacted Donna and she told me she did not know how to enter the appropriate number. This meant that authorised contributions may well have gone missing. I asked Mrs Mackenzie about this and told her that she should keep her eye on what was being done. She was, after all, the manageress of the Stroud operation and, if something was wrong, then it was for her to sort it out.
23. It was also discovered that Mrs Mackenzie had been smoking in the office. This had become a criminal offence and we sent a letter to her warning her about this breach of discipline. (Stupid law in my opinion)
24. Reference has been made to a list of names and addresses which were sent to Mrs Mackenzie re another organisation. In fact, this was but was from another (redundant) list which I had. I have a personal interest in religious and pro-life activities; such lists are connected with that involvement – they do not form part of my activities on behalf of the Party, which is totally separate. It is quite clear that this list had been sent by mistake.
25. Within the context of the information which I had, this list was forwarded by mistake to Stroud. Mrs Mackenzie thought that the named parties were perhaps inappropriate for the purpose of sending out Party information. She was quite right about this, as it had nothing at all to do with the BNP, and would have proved unhelpful to all concerned, especially me.
26. When I became acquainted with this I notified her that the list had been sent by mistake and was to be ignored. This mistake was quickly discovered within hours by my people and by the Lumbys as the names were mainly religious clerics/organisations. Mrs Mackenzie was immediately informed but seemed keen to continue with them until it became apparent that all parties were well aware of this mistake.
27. The forwarding of the list was a mistake and fortunately it was not acted upon. There would have been no great problem about the people on the list receiving political information, but as they were mainly religious persons/religious houses, it would probably have been inappropriate. When I became aware of the situation, I gave instructions to Mrs Mackenzie that the list should and must be ignored.
28. Mrs Mackenzie seeks to make out that the list was sent in order to enhance a ‘commission programme’ which I had with the Party. This is not so for the reasons which are set out in paragraph 9 above.
29. I should say that quite simply because of my involvement with various organisations that my business would have had possession of such lists.
30. Around this time I was beginning to question the mental state of Mrs Mackenzie. During one of my last visits she informed me that the building was haunted and she had “seen things” but she was not worried about the three ghosts! As they were friendly and she had spoken to them! She also informed me on that day that Donna was a full blown practising witch! This shocked me and I immediately informed the Chairman, who also found this rather shocking and told me to keep an eye on the situation.
31. I became increasingly frustrated at the lack of competence at the Stroud office. Whilst I could understand that Mr and Mrs Hancock might not have been particularly competent, I thought that Mrs Mackenzie should have been able to give them proper instructions. I understood that she had previously held responsible administrative positions in a managerial capacity, but such ability was not apparent from my dealings with her. Eventually, I issued my memorandum of 16th May 2009 which goes into considerable detail about the problems which were emanating from the Stroud office.
32. Mrs Mackenzie was requested to travel to Belfast to try to sort out what was going on in Stroud and to see how we could help her resolve the difficulties. She met with me and party accountant John Thompson. Her attitude was surly and combative and said directly to me “You will give it to me in the neck once boy, then you’ll see”. We discussed the Hancocks and Mrs Mackenzie said they were totally useless and had to go. I offered to go to Stroud and gently work out a way to let them go without offending them too much or humiliating them; we appreciated they might have been and perhaps were well-intentioned, but were not really competent for the job.
33. Mrs Mackenzie immediately stated that it was her job to dismiss and she was quite capable of acting and, indeed, would dismiss them in a week or so. As she was adamant I advised her to be as generous as possible re leaving pay and suggested 3 months money each just to lessen the blow. I took her decisiveness as an attempt at last to face up to her responsibilities; sadly, this was not the case.
34. I asked Mrs Mackenzie to dismiss Mr and Mrs Hancock because of their apparent lack of competence in dealing with the matters which were required. I also had in mind that she had severely criticised their ability and stated that they were not sufficiently competent. Whilst I had nothing against Mr and Mrs Hancock personally, they did seem to have difficulties in carrying out the functions for which they were engaged. Whether this was because of their own failings, or due to lack of proper supervision by Mrs Mackenzie, I am not sure.
35. In any event, after I had instructed her to dismiss Hancock, Mrs Mackenzie then sought ‘advice’ from Lee Barnes, who is the internal legal officer for the Party. Mr Barnes gave an account of what was required in dismissal cases, which Mrs Mackenzie took up with me.
36. With all due respect, this was almost totally irrelevant to the situation which had arisen. At that time (up until June 2009) I was in charge of business administration in the Party, including the supervision of the Stroud office. My memorandum of May 2009 made the position clear. Apart from the seeming lack of competence of Mrs Mackenzie, the involvement of Mr and Mrs Hancock was not helping to get things done efficiently; I had had to involve Mr and Mrs Lumby for a time in order to extricate the office from its difficulties.
37. For good intentions, I had instructed Mrs Mackenzie to give Mr and Mrs Hancock appropriate notice. She then went on a venture of her own, involving the internal legal officer, and trying to tell me how the Party should deal with matters so far as Mr and Mrs Hancock were concerned.
38. I felt that these representations, even if well-intentioned, were entirely irrelevant. I was trying to produce an effective administration at Stroud and, on behalf of the Party, I considered that two of the members were not sufficiently competent. Mrs Mackenzie should accordingly have followed my instructions or, alternatively, she should have referred the matter to the Party Chairman, Mr Griffin for determination.
39. It was not her business to involve the internal legal officer and to begin an argument with me as to whether the Party was or was not liable to Mr and Mrs Hancock concerning their employment. This was completely extraneous and was either misguided or else badly intentioned. The result was, in any event, that Mr and Mrs Hancock were released from their duties.
40. In addition to all these problems, I had received a number of reports that Mrs Mackenzie had been spreading outlandish stories about senior party officials and that she was going to take the party ‘to the cleaners’. Also that I was the most evil man she had ever met. This I found deeply troubling and thought that she had taken leave of her senses. I was therefore concerned about the sensitive data in Stroud and what could happen to it given the apparent strange behaviour of Mrs Mackenzie.
41. Over the next few days I tried to speak to Mrs Mackenzie but she would not take my calls. It became clear that she was determined not to come back and indeed had no intention of reconciling with the party. As a result, it was decided that the Stroud office would have to be closed, in order to protect – so far as we were able – party records etc. This was done and I reported the position to Mr Griffin, who sent the letter of 15th June 2009 to Mrs Mackenzie.
42. There were a lot of files, including personal files, kept at Stroud. We subsequently found that many of these were missing from the office. We do not know what has happened to them.
43. It was a very sad end for someone with whom I got on tremendously well at first. However, there seemed to be no alternative and, it appeared, Mrs Mackenzie wanted it so.
More to follow...
All material published on these pages represents the personal views of the DERBY PATRIOT and should not be taken to represent any political party.