First rule of the Gresley Society: don’t talk about the statue

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.

first rule of the gresley society
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.

Gresley Society AGM part 1: off to a bad start

We’ve been looking at the ins and outs of the Gresley Society AGM, held in London last December, in connection with a complaint to the Charity Commission. A lot of people who attended were shocked at the way it was run, for reasons which will become clear over the coming days.

It was obvious at the time that the trustees were determined to get their way over the statue and over the election of trustees – whatever their members thought. The way they achieved this was absolutely ruthless and, we contend, in large part illegal.
How were the trustees ruthless in pursuit of what they wanted? Well, let’s start with just one example, which gives a flavour of how things went.

The Gresley Society AGM is normally tagged on to a talk of interest to GS members, which is also open to the public. The AGM notice on the GS website is still there as of 12:47h today, and there is nothing to suggest the meeting was to be members only. Nor was there any mention of this in the notices of the meeting that appeared in the house magazine, the Gresley Observer.

One member from Gloucestershire had been nominated to stand for election as trustee and was accompanied to the meeting by his wife. The couple had driven up to London that morning, directly after she had finished work (on a night shift).

The couple, like the other attendees, were checked-in just outside the meeting room and took their seats inside. As the proceedings got under way, the Chairman announced the meeting was for members only, and said any non-members must leave the room. He said ‘we know there is a non-member present.’ And so, the poor woman was evicted from the room, all eyes on her as she walked out into a cold winter afternoon.

Why did the trustees think that was necessary? Perhaps it was designed to set the tone for the rest of the meeting. In fact, the rest of the meeting was even more unpleasant.

To be continued…

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Gresley Society trustees (L to R): Peter Beynon, Ian MacCabe, David McIntosh, Philip Benham, Graeme Bunker, Mike Foreman. Chris Nettleton (not pictured) was on sentry duty outside the room


The Gresley Society Guide to Running a Charity: public relations

In its ‘management’ of the statue debacle, the Gresley Society Council (its committee of trustees) has given a master class in how not to do things. The once highly respected charity is a ‘laughing stock’, according to Steam Railway’s David Wilcock, whose trustees have ‘lost the plot‘.

It would be a great pity if all we have learnt over the past few months were to be forgotten. So as a service to authoritarian regimes, juntas, secret societies and old boys’ networks the world over, we bring you the Gresley Society Guide to Running a Charity (as told to @gresleyduck)

Here’s the first extract:

4.2 Public relations.
If you have plenty of money in the bank, like we do, there is absolutely no need to bother with public relations. It’s just not important what anybody thinks of the charity, and you should take every opportunity to make this point.

For example, in 2015 our chairman successfully insulted thousands of people, in a sustained campaign against anyone who disagreed with our unpopular decision to remove the mallard from Sir Nigel Gresley’s statue. A few of our members resigned as a result, but the sort of person who would resign on a point of principle really isn’t suited to membership anyway and it’s best to be rid of them.

We have found it is good to repeat a catchy phrase when describing those who disagree with you – in our case “unbalanced duck fanatics” worked well to draw attention and to highlight the strength of our argument.

old boys network