Some Gresley Society members have been trying for a while to get a copy of the membership list, which according to the GS website is published periodically.
The requests for the list were refused for various reasons, Initially we were told the list was not in a “suitable format which can be circulated”. (The Membership Secretary said “the last such booklet was distributed to members in June 2008 and I regret I have not got round to replacing this with up to date information.”)
Then the problem was data protection, with the Chairman saying:“Your demand for [a] membership [list] is asking us to act illegally, we cannot supply this information without the prior permission of members.”
More recently, the excuse from the Chairman was: “To have a membership list you have to meet several legal requirements and one will be supplied when you comply with them, and not before.” When we asked him at the AGM what the legal requirements were. He replied: “It’s not for us to tell you; you can find out for yourselves.”
So a member made a formal request under section 116 of the Companies Act 2006, saying the list would be used to contact others to further his knowledge of Gresley. And got an extraordinary reply from the Gresley Society Secretary, including this extract:
“if we believe the information is requested for an improper purpose we could apply to court to direct that we do not comply with your request. However, on the basis that you have only requested the information to converse with like minded members to further your knowledge of Sir Nigel Gresley, and that this is the only reason for which the information will be used, we are of the view that this is a proper purpose to disclose the information to you.
We would note, however, in making this decision that we have considered the risk of you using the information for other purposes, especially given concerns raised by members in the past of unsolicited correspondence regarding other matters. In particular we assume (on the basis that you do not mention this) that you do not intend to contact members on an unsolicited basis in respect of the current disputes surrounding the status of the statue proposed of Sir Nigel.
As it is an offence to knowingly or recklessly make in a request such as yours a statement that is misleading, false or deceptive in a material particular (pursuant to section 119(1) Companies Act 2006) or to disclose information to someone who could use the information other than for a proper purpose, in each case with liability for such an offence being a maximum of two years imprisonment and/or a fine on indictment, we have taken the view that the sole purpose for your request is to converse with members who have a similar mindset to you, in respect of Sir Nigel Gresley himself, and trust you will limit your use of the information to this, and not disclose the members list to others.”
The member replied on 16th Feb:
“Now, on reflection and your wish to pursue me through the court should I divulge the contents of the list, or use it for a purpose you see unfit […] I have changed my mind on why I wish to use it. [..] So my reason for the request is now “in order to canvas members’ opinions about the mallard prior to requesting a poll”
I wish to do this because, despite spending £95,000 of the members money on the statue GST have consistently refused a members’ decision.”
He has yet to receive a reply.