Campaigners involved in a controversial statue of Sir Nigel Gresley – due to be unveiled at King’s Cross station on Tuesday 5th – have been angered by the Charity Commission’s decision not to sanction trustees of the Gresley Society, who the campaigners say have lied, acted illegally and taken money under false pretences.
The row over the statue began a year ago when the trustees removed a mallard duck from the planned statue of the railway engineer – because Gresley’s grandsons said it was ‘demeaning’. But by this point, the Gresley Society was three months into a fundraising appeal for the £95k statue (including duck), and the decision prompted a furore with three trustees resigning in protest and the start of an online petition.
The remaining trustees have refused to reconsider their decision, however, despite support for the petition (over 3,200 signatures) and many eminent people, including two Gresley Society Vice Presidents (Sir William McAlpine and Lord Lindsay) speaking out in favour of the mallard’s inclusion.
Leading campaigner Libby Ranzetta said:
“The Gresley Society trustees have gone to extraordinary lengths to defend their decision to remove the mallard from the statue, including breaking the law. It is disappointing that the Charity Commission doesn’t view this behaviour as sufficiently serious or damaging to the reputation of charities to take action. It makes you wonder how bad a charity would need to be before they were interested.”
Gresley Society member Ron Vale said:
“The Charity Commission tell us the issues raised in the complaint should be resolved within the charity – but members have been lied to, prevented from contacting one another and denied any say in the statue decision. How can anything be resolved while these trustees are prepared to flout all the rules to get their way?”