The Disputed Ownership of Christopher Daniel's
Books in the BSS Library
The story so far......!
[If you simply want the latest in the saga just go to the bottom of this page or click here.]
At the end of the
Society’s AGM that was held on Friday morning 25th April 2014 to elect trustees
for the coming year and to approve the conversion of the charity to a Charitable Incorporated
Organisation, the BSS President Christopher Daniel MBE, stood to speak.
He had found it necessary to seek help from delegates concerning the
extraordinary way in which he was being treated by the present Council of the very
society he helped to found 25 years ago! All this as a result of what can
surely only be described as the Council’s unbelievable ineptitude in failing to
respond properly to members’ long held concerns about a frankly quite bizarre suggestion made
by one BSS member in 2012 that the
library should be closed because the cost of £150 a year needed to maintain it
might be better spent elsewhere. A suggestion that, of course, had been made
without any regard as to what
might, could or should, be done with the library's contents and one which completely ignored the
extraordinary value for money that the £150pa represented which, as well as
providing all conventional reference library facilities, also includes insurance
of the contents!
Concern about this ridiculous proposal had first been raised in March 2013 by society members in a letter to the Editor of the Society’s Bulletin, but inexplicably to many, the issue was thereafter largely ignored by the Council although an extraordinary proposal was made by the Chairman that a count might be mounted of those who visited the BSS collection - something that no library in the country would ever regard as appropriate for a reference collection. Unsurprisingly, that was refused by the present Librarian. If input obtained by SunInfo from members is to be believed, blunder was followed by blunder and the matter was not even placed on the agenda of trustee meetings for something like six months. Furthermore none of the usual charity commission protections for items of value appear ever to have been considered, let alone put in place. Becoming increasingly concerned at the cavalier approach of the present Council to the future for the library and the many works that he had placed there on long term loan to form the start of a reference collection and to which members could refer, Christopher not surprisingly asked for their return. Then, well over a year and a half later, the Council persisted in trying to suggest that the works must have been a gift and must therefore must be the property of the Society, even though there is no signed handover document and even though Graham Aldred, the librarian who set up the library in the first place, confirmed Christopher’s view that his books were placed there are on long term loan. To any BSS member on the proverbial Clapham Omnibus, it all began to read rather as some sort of attempt to cover up Council incompetence and if so, it was surely appalling that in so doing the most celebrated of the founders of the Society should have his integrity so persistently questioned like this. See for yourself here just how appalling the matter is.
Read the text of Chris Daniel’s speech after the Greenwich AGM for yourself here further down on this
● Read the accompanying documentation and then - wait for it! - read the Council's attempts to maintain their position as presented in the June 2014 Bulletin-mailing.
● Read, a formal legal request to the 'Secretary' (dated the 11th April 2014) to see the Council's evidence has apparently been forgotten or ignored. A reminder had to be sent and still there was no reply nearly five months later.
● Then, read what some were writing both to the Council and to this web page about this issue.
● Then, read some of the extraordinary emails that were still coming from the Council as a meeting is proposed.
● See how ill-informed one or more of the trustees appears to be. By any standards this is all surely a shambles? The Membership deserve better.
● See the extraordinary letter sent on 11th September by BSS's Chairman to the Membership which unilaterally tried to close the matter and then see how members have responded.
However, and as may be seen from the letters below, the Society's librarian who actually accepted the books in the first place, had already provided the necessary evidence of a loan in his letter (something which has still not been disclosed to the Membership by the Council) and when this same assertion of a gift came to be repeated by the Council earlier that year, Graham felt it necessary to write again to the Secretary in March to point out that his letter had been misrepresented. Not only that but it is also quite wrong for the Council to say in their June Newsletter notes that the trustees do not have the power to return the books - the Constitution provided for it!
And Then, in another twist and three months after first being formally asked for its evidence to support its stance that Christopher Daniel's books were indeed a gift, the Society had to be asked again! Members must now be asking if this evidence really does exist. See the latest requesting letter from the solicitor further down on this page or click ►here.
Let us be quite clear: anything on loan to the Society can always be returned. Gifted assets are the subject of a gift contract. Can the council now produce such a contract? No. What's worse, even if ownership of some or all of the other books in the library had been legally gifted to the society, the trustees still have complete control over all the society's assets - See Clause 4a of the applicable (1992) Constitution. The only restriction is that they may not make gifts to other charities and they generally must always act in furtherance of the charity's objects. It has to be in furtherance of the charity's objects to prevent its disintegration.
As if all this is not enough, it was now beginning to emerge that the return of gifted assets to their original owner had always have been permitted within charity law. If this is so why then was BSS STILL prevaricating over this matter?
Members and others who were still concerned, were urged to write to the Chairman of BSS - with copies to the other Trustees if possible - to request that the Council immediately accede to Christopher Daniel's entirely reasonable request. See examples of what some wrote at the bottom of this page - or jump straight to them ►here.
Need more information? Here's the background - read on!
I - Christopher Daniel's Statement to delegates after the AGM at Greenwich in April 2014
This Conference, appropriately held here at Greenwich - where I first acquired my interest in sundials in 1968 - celebrates the 25th Anniversary of the founding of the British Sundial Society in 1989. As you know, I was one of the four "Founding Fathers" and was subsequently elected Chairman, which office I held for some twenty years. To my mind, this is my Society, to which I have devoted much time and care. Sadly, from a personal point of view, there is a shadow over this present event.
Over 15 years ago, in about 1998/99, I commissioned a former colleague of mine, Mrs Elizabeth Wiggans, a professional librarian, to catalogue my library of dialling works. This commission coincided with moving home from the outskirts of London to the market town of Faversham, to a smaller property. About this same time, Mrs Wiggans asked me if I could remove some of the sixty boxes of my books, which she had stored in her bedrooms, as she anticipated her family coming to stay. My solution was to deposit some of these sundial works in the BSS Library in Bromley House, in Nottingham. I thought that they might temporarily enhance the library! It may be recalled that at this time, around the year 2000, very little dialling information was generally available to those who were interested in the subject, especially original copies of 16th, 17th and 18th century dialling works.
This situation occurred at a time when the Society was really quite an informal organisation. Consequently, no formal document, legal or otherwise, stating the terms of this arrangement, was considered necessary. To my mind, the books were on an indefinite, long term loan, despite my occasional lax use of words to the contrary! Had they been donated, I would have provided the Society with the required donation document and with a copy of the complete catalogue. So how come, if my library books actually belong to the BSS, does the Secretary to the Society not possess a copy, indeed, the annotated copy of the catalogue, which lists the works that were placed temporarily in the BSS Library..?
Following Douglas Bateman's critical views of the purpose of the BSS Library, I became uneasy about its future and decided that I would like two of my favourite dialling works returned to me. Accordingly, in June 2013, I wrote to Nick Orders, the present BSS Librarian, requesting their return; but received no reply. Evidently, he had sought the views of the BSS Trustees, who form the Council, who contended that my library had been gifted to the BSS. I should say here that there is NOT ONE person on the present Council, who was involved in or knows of, the background to the placement of my books in the "care" of the BSS Library. Yet, the original BSS Librarian, Graham Aldred, who was consulted by the Council, told them three months ago that:
"It seems to me the matter is entirely straightforward, Chris is entitled to the return of any
of his books placed at Bromley House. They are not part of the Society's assets, they have only ever been valued once particularly for their insurance cover by Bromley House but also to define the BSS custody".
As the months went by, I changed my mind in respect of the number of books which I wished to recover, to eighteen specific listed works. Ten months have now passed and still the Council of this Society remains intransigent. Indeed, their attitude questions my honesty and integrity. Consequently, I have been obliged to inform my solicitor that I wish to recover all my dialling works, remaining in the BSS Library.
If my property is not returned to me, I shall have little choice but to take the Trustees of this Society to Court. In this sad and unnecessary event, should I first tender my resignation..? And, how does the President - a Founding Father of your Society - explain this action to the Membership..? I should like your help, please: I cannot ask you for a formal vote on this issue - it would be improper - but I can ask you to support me by pressing the Council for the immediate return of my property - thank you.
II - Documents available to view at the time of Christopher's statement to the 2014 Conference
Three further documents were made available to delegates at the meeting, the text of which is given below. These reinforce the serious concerns about the attitude of the Council in this matter, the protracted nature of the communications and provide further evidence of Chris Daniel's position. They also provide documented proof of the Council's early knowledge of the fact that Christopher's books were indeed a loan despite the Council's later statement to the contrary.
E-MAIL FROM ORIGINAL BSS LIBRARIAN TO SECRETARY
Note last paragraph.
From: Graham Aldred
To: Chris Williams
Sent: Tuesday, February 04, 2014 11 :54 AM
Subject: BSS Library
I have a couple of important and sad personal matters that are ongoing and take most of my attention these days. Consequently all other considerations including historic BSS matters have to take second place.
I am quite unable to give any assurance that I have sent you all the information that is relevant to Chris Daniel's request. But I have sent you all the information I can find after 14 years.
I have sent you two lists which identify two major batches of books sent to me from Chris Daniel by carriers with white vans. But there were also other small packages of books from Chris that came subsequently which were delivered normally by the Post Office. They were merged with other books and bound copies of Bulletins and Compendiums etc and when the batches were large enough I took them to Nottingham and revised the Catalogue. The BSS Lib Catalogue has work sheets which identify several of the batches of these progressive acquisitions.
So this is all the information that I can give you, you have the initial lists and I have now outlined the process and sequence .It is now a long time since I was librarian of the BSS and even a trustee of the charity. During my librarianship the secretary was duly copied with relevant material which I presume would have been filed by him, these files may be in the repository supervised by J Foad or there may have been a cull to reduce space. At handover to Nick Orders I sent other material to him including of course a copy of the then latest catalogue.
As a result I have not maintained any formal archive here, yet as the two lists of the books that had been placed with the Society by Chris Daniel demonstrate, I may encounter other documents. If I should come across any other material that might relate to this issue I shall of course send it both to you and to Chris.
It seems to me the matter is entirely straightforward, Chris is entitled to the return of any of his books placed at Bromley House. They are not part of the Society's assets, they have only ever been valued once particularly for their insurance cover by Bromley House but also to define the BSS custody.
E-MAIL FROM ORIGINAL BSS LIBRARIAN TO SECRETARY
From: Graham Aldred
To: Chris Williams; Frank King; Graham Stapleton ; Jackie Jones; David Brown; Chris Lusby Taylor; Bill Visick Cc: Chris Daniel
Sent: Friday, March 07, 20146:55 PM
Subject: Regarding the BSS Library
In search of some clarity and confirmation, Chris Daniel passed your email (21/02/14) on to me in which I discover that you have misrepresented and distorted what I stated in my email to you (04/02/14) I stated to you that :-
I am quite unable to give any assurance that I have sent you all the information that is relevant to Chris Daniel's request.
You distorted this as :- The only material development since then is that Graham Aldred has recently informed us he can provide no evidence the books were a loan.
There is no elementary logical connection between these two statements! I have simply told you that I have sent all the information that I can find, copies of which happened by chance to be stored in my own personal and general archives that I hold over many years. I have advised you to look in the Library Catalogue and formal archive of Society papers held by John Foad.
However it is possible that the Society lacks the objective enthusiasm to search for such evidence in these sources. Notwithstanding this, whilst you may have no evidence currently to hand that the books were placed on loan, there is equally no evidence whatsoever that the books were a gift. Consequently the Society cannot claim by default that the books were a 'Gift,' particularly given the recall of those who were actually there at the time.
Furthermore none of the books were ever registered as BSS assets, which would be normal practice if they were owned by the BSS. The collection was valued specifically for inclusion under the Bromley House insurance cover as I have told you previously. It was/is necessary that the books 'on loan' to the BSS should be covered against hazards whilst in the Society's custody.
In summary then :-
1. The books CD has requested to be returned definitely originated from CD and I have described to you how they came to be placed in the BSS library.
2. As you requested, I have provided as evidence a list of those books known by me to have been placed in the library by CD for the benefit of others.
3. In my position as the appointed BSS Librarian I have, in my recent letter, made a clear statement to the BSS regarding my understanding of the ownership of these books and the terms under which they were placed in the BSS library.
4. It seems obvious to me that unless the BSS can produce evidence of a transfer of ownership from CD to the BSS, including the asset numbers for books believed by BSS to be a gift, then the books cannot be regarded as 'gifts' and therefore must be considered as 'on loan'
I am copying all the BSS Trustees (and Chris Daniel) with this email in order that the Trustees have first hand awareness of the details of this important matter. As a member and former Trustee of the BSS for many years may I urge the current Trustees to review their position and collectively recognise the damage and ridicule that a legal escalation will bring to a harmless learned Society hitherto quite innocent of any sort of 'politicking'
With my regards, Graham Aldred
SOLICITOR'S E-MAIL LETTER TO THE BSS SECRETARY.
Sent: 11 April 2014 12:17
To: 'Chris Williams'
Subject: RE: Re GCMjJGGjDA2011j0003 - Christopher SJH Daniel
The absence of evidence to support our Client's position does not equate to ownership by the Society.
If, matters cannot be resolved, we will have no alternative but to advise our Client to apply to the Court for a declaration as to his ownership. This is not a step we would take lightly, not least given our Client is the President of, and a founding member of, the Society. Should such a step provide necessary we will seek our c1ient's; costs incidental to, and occasioned by, any such application from you and the other Trustees personally.
Any attempt to incorporate the Society as a Company Limited by Guarantee will not be sufficient to transfer liability for any legal costs (for which the Trustees will remain personally liable) incurred in respect of any potential claim.
We note you seek to rely on evidence in support of your own position. Please provide this by immediate return, including copies of the "Society's Official Records", complete with our Client's signature as well as the Librarian Report of June 2000 and Newsletter NO.17.
In light of the potential personal liability to them, we require your confirmation that you have copied this email to the other Trustees.
We look forward to hearing from you.
Furley Page LLP
III - Evidential text of Christopher Daniel's Foreword to the first BSS Catalogue 2006
Christopher Daniel's Foreword to the first BSS Library Catalogue makes it entirely clear that his contribution to the library was in a category apart from the gifts of others. Please read its wording highlighted here:
BSS REFERENCE LIBRARY CATALOGUE 2006
The Library of the British Sundial Society was originally formed by a nucleus of sundial books that had been in the private library of the late Dr Andrew Somerville. These were generously donated to the Society by Anne Somerville and, as a nearby friend of the Somervilles, Graham Aldred kindly took responsibility for these books.
In so doing, he became, de facto, the Society’s Honorary Librarian and assumed the mantle of responsibility with his usual enthusiasm. Having once been the Honorary Librarian of the British Astronomical Association, I was reasonable aware of the task that faced him; but, when, in the year 2000, the Society found a home for the newly formed library in Bromley House, Nottingham, Graham was undaunted by the challenge.
Andrew Somerville’s library, books from my own library, donated books from other sources and bound volumes of the BSS Bulletin were duly moved to the new premises and catalogued, with the ready assistance of the librarians of Bromley House. Now, after the onerous and painstaking work involved in compiling this material, Graham Aldred has produced the first edition of the BSS Reference Library Catalogue. It is yet another achievement for the Society and one which should encourage and enable Members to visit and use the Reference Library.
Christopher St J H Daniel
IV - Text of the Request by the Concerned Members that was published with the June 2014 Bulletin
Chris Daniel and his Dialling Books
Dear BSS member,
At the recent AGM held on the 25th April 2014 at the Greenwich Conference it became clear that there is an issue between the President Chris Daniel and the Trustees (i.e. Council) of the BSS over the ownership of a number of books held in the BSS section of the Bromley Library in Nottingham.
Chris Daniel has requested that some of these books be returned to him. The issue revolves around whether Chris Daniel gifted the books to the library or loaned the books to the library. In the early days of the BSS many arrangements and activities were carried out by members on the basis of friendship and enthusiasm with little or no thought given at the time to possible future interpretation. So, to try to resolve this issue would you kindly indicate your support for the following proposal by emailing or writing to the BSS Secretary Chris Williams (firstname.lastname@example.org) stating your support?
The proposal from members to the Trustees:
In the spirit of unity and harmony, and in recognition of the valuable and substantial contribution made to the BSS by the president and founder Chris Daniel, it is requested that the BSS Trustees give favourable consideration to a proposal from BSS members to support the request by the BSS President Chris Daniel for the immediate return of a number of specified books of great importance to him which are held in the BSS collection in the Bromley Library in Nottingham.
The membership recognises that the Trustees have a responsibility for the appropriate management of BSS assets and should note that there is ongoing legal action to establish ownership of these books.
However, it is proposed that the return of these books to Chris Daniel be made without prejudice,
irrespective of the contested ownership issues.
Many thanks for your support; it is hoped that this issue can be resolved as soon as possible.
From: Ian Butson, John Foad, Martin Jenkins, Kevin Karney, Geoff Parsons.
V - What BSS said in June 2014 to try to justify their position - and an analysis of it. Oh! and note the things they didn't tell their members!
Under a heading: "Some Relevant Considerations", the Council offered these summary points in the June mailing:
What is the evidence the books were donated? Considerable documentary evidence exists including that created by Chris Daniel and the Librarian at the time:
• Chris Daniel's schedule of 'BOOKS DONATED TO BRITISH SUNDIAL SOCIETY, 2000'. After each book's details, 'Daniel Collection: presented to BSS 2000' appears.
• A further schedule of 'Second list of books donated to the British Sundial Society by Christopher Daniel', ending 'Christopher Daniel 12 July 2000'.
• The Librarian's report of March 2000 to Council stated 'Chris Daniel generously decided to donate .... to the BSS Library.'
• The Librarian's report of June 2000 to the membership (Newsletter No. 17) stated the books were '.... a recent donation from Chris Daniel.'
Some rather MORE relevant considerations.
These claims hinge on a narrow definition of the word 'donate' and its repetitive use in the various lists of books. Yes, with hindsight it would have been better if Christopher had enacted a proper legal document regarding his loan but his placement of books was one of the first deposits made to start a society library and at that time - in sharp contrast to today - the society was formed from a friendly grouping of members who were not disposed to the litigious approach to management and minimisation of trustee-risk that we have come to see since 2011. Christopher's actions were altruistic and performed with the highest integrity. He simply wished to give others in the society the opportunity to handle important dialling works and it suited him at a time when he had neither the space in a new small house nor the security to keep them at home. To many, it is little short of a disgrace that some now try to deprive him of his property.
It seems to have escaped the notice of the Council that the word donation has more than one meaning. The word is also applied to the action of making a contribution. That use is common where exhibitions and other other displays are involved and it is common in the case of temporary loans to a library. It is interesting that the documents sited by the Council make extensive use of the word donate. Indeed in some the word is used against each and every book - just as is necessary if at a later date the ownership of each individual book has to be established.
If these deposits were truly gifts to the Society, free of any encumbrance, then why is there not a single document to that effect? Christopher has gifted other things to the Society, perhaps most notably the ownership of the society logo, and this was the subject of a formal document. Why then can the Council not produce a single document of transfer? Furthermore, why has there been no attempt to place the books on the Society's asset register?
Is there any
evidence of a loan? No reference to a loan can be found in the Society's
records. Despite repeated requests to Chris Daniel and the former Librarian
and the receipt of several communications, no documentary evidence of a loan
has been received. Furley Page (Chris Daniel's solicitors) state in their 19
March 2014 letter to the Secretary that there is no documentary evidence of
a loan. Current recall of a loan is contradicted by documentary evidence
from the time.
Of course there is no reference to a loan in the society
records - just as there is no document of transfer.
***BSS 'HOLDS BACK' FACTS THAT YOU MIGHT THINK MEMBERS SHOULD KNOW***
We are not aware of anything other than a single request for documentary
evidence. But that request was answered by Graham in his letter of 4th
February 2014 (see above) and when this was quietly ignored, he emphasised
it again in his further letter of
March 7th (see above). Interestingly the fact has been ignored yet again in
the society's list of relevant considerations of the June 2014 mailing - see below.
Because Graham Aldred was the receiving librarian,
his letters of evidence constitute documentary evidence of a loan. At the very
least it is surely disingenuous for the Council to infer that that these are somehow inadmissible
or do not exist .
|What therefore is the status of the books? The documentary evidence is that the books were donated. As such they are the property of the Society.||
The documentary evidence as supplied by the receiving
librarian of the time is that the books were a long term loan whose return
may be requested at any time.
Are there restrictions on how the Society's property and assets can be used? Yes.
Both the Society's Constitution and the Charity Act state that the Society's property and assets can only be used in the pursuit of the Society's/charity's objects.
What does this mean for Chris Daniel's request? The Trustees are not able to meet this request as they have no power to give away the Society's property and assets and would be breaking the law if they did so.
***BSS SAYS IT DOESN'T HAVE POWER
WHEN IT DOES ***
Let us be clear. These books have never been logged as assets of the Society, they are on loan, so there is no restriction to their return. Even if they had been properly registered as a gift and were true assets of the Society it would still be incorrect for the Council to suggest that the Trustees have no power to dispose of them. They have every right within the law and the Constitution. The applicable Constitution says under 'Condition 4 - Powers':
furtherance of the objects but not otherwise the Council may exercise the
It is most certainly in accordance with the Objects of the
Society to return these books since not to do so risks the resignation of
the President and co-founder of the Society, the man who has done more for
British dialling than any other and the one who within the past 12 months
has even been appointed MBE in part for such work. With any such
resignation would come the undoubted formation of an alternative society and
the loss of considerable numbers of BSS members to it. Not only that but not returning these books
may well precipitate the collapse of the whole BSS Library
Collection. Unless this matter is properly resolved, no one in the future would
make any gift or loan to the BSS library when the status of the library can
be overturned by a wrong thinking subsequent-year's elected council.
How can the issue be resolved? The Trustees are prepared to be as flexible as possible and explore alternative ways forward with Chris Daniel. This must be consistent with the evidence, the Society's Constitution and the law, and we will consult with the Charity Commission's Legal Services as appropriate. We cannot do this whilst under constant threat of legal action.
How can this issue be resolved?
By the simple return of these books to Chris Daniel without prejudice, irrespective of the contested ownership issues and by immediately placing the library under the stewardship of the 'Official Custodian for Charities' or some similar entity. Legal considerations do not affect this action at all.
Anyone - BSS member or not - troubled by the way in which Christopher is being treated by the present BSS Council should write immediately to the Chairman, Frank King at the address given in any BSS Bulletin.
Letters and other material reproduced by permission, extracts used under terms of Copyright Fair Dealing. SunInfo is committed to accuracy. Please notify the webmaster of any mistakes, errors or if further information is relevant to the arguments presented on this page.
VI - What some have written so far...
A Third letter from Graham Aldred
22 June 2014
I read the letter, by senior members of the Society, enclosed with the Bulletin, proposing the return of Chris Daniel’s books, and your own strategically placed covering letter, supporting the Council’s position with dismay.
This issue is a self inflicted mess which the Council is making worse by self righteous assertions which invent limitations to its authority to make decisions for the benefit of the Society. I am astounded that the BSS Council is apparently so unanimous and blind. Failure to resolve this matter urgently will do harm to the Society and bring ridicule and disrepute.
I would like to point out that my e-mail to the Secretary (4 Feb) was misrepresented and distorted by him in his subsequent e-mail (21 Feb). Your Relevant Considerations include the statement that “Despite repeated requests to Chris Daniel and the former Librarian and the receipt of several communications, no documentary evidence of a loan has been received.” I challenge this statement because it is totally untrue, there were not ‘several communications’. Only one request was made and it was answered, there were no repeated requests. This is another alarming example of manipulation of facts which previously occurred in the flawed analysis of the Opinion Survey.
Most importantly, there is no evidence that the books were a permanent gift because there is no document that formally records the books are assets of the Society, unlike the formal document gifting the costly copyright of the BSS logo to the Society, paid for personally by Chris Daniel. If the CD books had been assets of the BSS there would have been an annual valuation published in the Society’s Accounts, this never happened.
As the Society’s first Librarian, I was responsible for cataloguing and depositing Chris Daniel’s dialling library books in the BSS Library at Nottingham. I did not consider these books to be the Society’s permanent property, unlike, for example, the books owned by Andrew Somerville given to the Society by Anne Somerville some years before.
In my view, Council should support the wise proposal of the senior members of the Society recommending the immediate return of Chris Daniel’s books “irrespective of the contested ownership issues.”
G J Aldred Cc Chris Daniel, BSS Trustees
A letter from Patrick Powers, a BSS trustee for 17 years
16 Moreton Avenue, Harpenden, Hertfordshire, AL5 2ET
11 July 2014
Dr F King
12 Victoria Street
A letter to the Chairman and Trustees of the British Sundial Society
I have recently been made aware of the June mailing to BSS members and I am writing in reply to it both as a former trustee of the charity for 17 years and under my public rights under Charity Law.
I refer in particular, to the matter of Christopher Daniel’s books in the BSS Library and the quite inordinate prevarication on it by the Council. In the circumstances, Christopher has been surprisingly unforthcoming to anyone on this matter but over the past weeks several other members of the Society have expressed their dissatisfaction to me over your treatment of the President and some have taken the trouble to provide me with material on this subject . It is clear that the books were a loan made to the Society at the inauguration of its Reference Library.
1. In what must be the first time that this Council has ever consulted previous trustees, Chris Williams contacted Graham Aldred about the matter of Christopher Daniel’s library books. Graham, as the inaugurating librarian, duly responded to confirm that the books had always been a loan and were not a gift; yet this Council appears to have avoided mentioning this documentary evidence to the wider membership. Indeed I believe that Graham has now felt it necessary to write two or more times on the matter. This has been known by the Council since March. It is surely therefore disingenuous for this evidence to have been omitted from the material circulated to members. Consequently, the wider membership is not yet aware of Graham’s evidence of a loan. That in turn means that no reliance may now be placed upon percentage responses from the membership on this issue.
2. The Council’s position in the June mailing relies heavily upon only one meaning of the word ‘donate’ and whether by design or from ignorance, it quite ignores its other and here perhaps more relevant, meaning of ‘to contribute’; a meaning which is frequently used in connexion with exhibitions etc and of course has been used by Christopher in his loan of books to the Society. Incidentally, I am told that it is just this dual usage of the word which prompts some jurisdictions to require irrevocable gifts to be substantiated by documentation – just as was done with Christopher’s transfer of the ownership of the BSS logo.
3. No such deed of donation of Christopher’s books exists. The absence of such a document does not equate to ownership by the Society. As far as I know, all other gifts from him to BSS have been duly and properly recorded. The books have never been logged as assets of the Society.
Accordingly I believe that the presumption in law must be that title to the books has not been transferred to BSS. They are indeed on loan and as such may be returned at any time on his request.
4. The wording of Christopher’s foreword to the first edition of the BSS Reference Library Catalogue in November 2006 is explicit. It specifies quite clearly the four quite separate types of placement in the library viz: “Andrew Somerville’s library, books from my own library, donated books from other sources and bound volumes of the BSS Bulletin were duly moved to the new premises and catalogued…”. Christopher’s books are on loan; the AS library was the subject of the execution of a will and the other books were gifted. Every item loaned by Christopher is specifically identified as ‘a contribution’ in the catalogue.
5. I, along with others, can recall a discussion amongst trustees in Christopher’s absence in which because the books were on loan, we actually considered whether the Society might use some of its reserves to purchase them.
6. I am appalled that your statement in the June mailing wrongly informs the membership that the Council is powerless to give away any society property. Item 4a of the applicable Constitution enables any Council to sell, lease or dispose of all or any part of the property of the Society. This, in the extreme, ensures that no placement in the BSS Reference Library is safe from the whim of any incoming Council. Given the present debacle, after the matter of Christopher’s books is resolved, the Council should as a priority, consider protecting the library and the two National Dial Registers by placing them under the Stewardship of the ‘Official Custodian for Charities’ or some similar entity.
7. Christopher is a man of stature and integrity. He is a man of professionalism and achievement in two disciplines who, less than a year ago, had this nationally recognised by being appointed MBE for his services. Over his professional lifetime he has led an upsurge in interest in dials and dialling not only in the UK but in the world, he has become the country’s senior and possibly most prolific, dial designer and he has been responsible for much of what the British Sundial Society was at the time you and the present Council took over. Part of his work for the BSS was to make his own property freely available to the membership by way of the then new Reference Library. It is shameful that after all he has done for the Society he should be treated like this.
8. It also beggars belief that no attempt was made to meet personally with Christopher as soon as his request was received and it is nothing short of a disgrace that his selfless devotion to the cause of dialling in the British Isles should be repaid by the present cheap attempt to claim the ownership of his books by what some might well see as the use of wilful blindness.
9. It is important for the Council to consider the consequences of their actions. If Christopher does not have his books returned to him, what society member – or other potential donor ‐ will ever consider depositing their collections – either of books or of dial records – with BSS?
10. As if this is not enough, if the books are not returned, Christopher may well feel obliged to resign. If that occurs then membership of BSS will undoubtedly suffer and may even collapse; particularly if another sundial society were to be formed as a result. This would be the sole legacy of you and the current BSS Council.
You may not yet have realised it but you should know that this matter is rapidly getting out of hand. I urge you and all the Council to reconsider the present issue as a matter of real urgency and return Christopher’s books as soon as possible.
c cc BSS Trustees, et al
Sent: Saturday, July 12, 2014
Just some of the comments received about this disturbing issue.
|THREE MONTHS on BSS STILL has to be reminded to submit its evidence. Does it really exist?||Now, it seems it may not matter whether the books were loaned or not!! So: Why is BSS STILL holding onto them?|
16 Moreton Avenue, Harpenden, Hertfordshire, AL5 2ET
7 August 2014
Dr FH King
12 Victoria Street
Even though I resigned from Council and indeed from BSS, some considerable time ago I am receiving an increasing number of communications relating to the matter of the President’s library books.
Many of these express exasperation with the Council – sometimes in very forceful words – and several are beginning to recognise the Council’s actions as little short of bullying. Personally, I find that disgraceful. It is perhaps not surprising that an increasing number of my correspondents are coming to the conclusion that some on the Council are now bringing the Society into disrepute.
Despite the existing evidence that the books were indeed loaned to the Society in the first place and despite the absence of any formal acceptance of a donation, I understand that a stumbling block in all this is the Council’s belief that the books were donated and as such the trustees cannot dispose of donated items except under terms that are in accordance with the Objects of the Society.
I write now to make you aware of an opinion that suggests that there is no problem in charity law with a board of trustees returning any donation to its original donor. The process is, it seems, the very mechanism by which any charity is able to return an unwanted donation, an earlier donation of a book where a first edition has subsequently been gifted or of course an earlier donation that later is discovered to be ‘tainted’ in some way. It seems that there are several examples of this upon which Christopher may draw and I shall shortly be writing to alert him to this.
In these circumstances it would seem that there can be no impediment to the return of Christopher’s books whether they be loaned or gifted. Before the whole society comes to be engulfed by this matter and before the inevitable fall-out from it starts, might I suggest that the trustees now reconsider their refusal to return all of Christopher’s books?
|Read what the Trustees are still saying a YEAR later in the Summer of 2014 about this shambles...||Now see just how misinformed one or more BSS trustees actually appear to be...|
|CD is still asserting that's 'his library' was
on indefinite loan. Where is the evidence? As I understand it, they were
given/donated to the Society.
[CStJHD's] bombing of the AGM was disgraceful. 'Allowing' the matter to come
into the open was more like 'forcing'.
I expect you have received a copy of the letter sent by PP to FK. (Ed:
see the text of this above right)
In any case, not being a member of the Society, what right has [PP] got
to meddle in its affairs?
|Yes, he most certainly is
asserting that. The evidence is clear yet it has not yet been
clearly stated to the Membership by the trustees and to judge from this late comment not
to the other trustees either!!. The Society's librarian at the time
knows and has said many times, that the books were placed on long term loan!
Despite this, the Council persists in a view that the books were donated
and has said that it cannot return donated assets. Now, we hear that
the Council proposes to swap the books for ownership of the Society logo.
Hmmm, so it CAN return assets after all when it wants.... No wonder
the wider membership are appalled.
There is nothing disgraceful about alerting the Membership to an unresolved issue when more than twelve months of Council procrastination and secrecy have prevented any resolution. Many BSS Members have already said that action is now needed. Several now think that it is entirely right that the Council should be pushed to resolve this ridiculous issue. A few even feel that some trustees are guilty of bringing the Society into disrepute.
Odd how this trustee has got the facts so wrong. PP made no such accusation in his letter! - read the text of it above right. It is the Membership who are saying this. They find it disgraceful that someone who has done so much for the Society over nearly 25 years should be treated so discourteously that no reply to his request was sent for months, no one from the Council visited him after receiving the request and then the chairman TWICE refused to meet Chris at his home to discuss the matter! Frank King has now twice insisted that a meeting should take place in Cambridge yet Chris Daniel no longer has a car and at age 81 finds the journey by public transport too much. Then, as if all that wasn't enough, the Council insists that it alone should determine how the talks should proceed and it insists that 'it cannot negotiate' with lawyers involved. What Rubbish. Anyone think that that is not bullying? And now we hear that the Council is attempting to set a date by which they will consider the issue closed. Anyone think that that is not bullying?
This trustee then confuses the issue even more by suggesting that there was an act of bullying by PP in respect of the former web master although as has already been made clear, PP's role is completely irrelevant to the argument over books. But nonetheless let us answer that. Does he not understand that where parts of another person's website have been copied to the Society's site without a request let alone permission, and where copyright is subsequently claimed by BSS on other people's material and when licensed software is also copied and used without permission of the licence holder, then any warning about that (in this case it was a 'Cease and Desist Order'; Read it here) has to go to the trustees via the webmaster. It is just a simple process akin to making a claim under the UK Sale of Goods Act. The purchaser's first point of redress for faulty goods is to the supplying shop. No bullying involved there either.
The Member then further shows his confusion by various 'references to legal actions against Council Members'. There has been nothing other than a reminder that on the books issue the trustees are jointly and severally responsible for their actions. A reminder that was very necessary in view of the plans to change the charity to a CIO. Even the solicitor acting for Christopher Daniel has also had to remind the trustees of this for this very same reason. That is not bullying.
Oddly (and it has to be said, worryingly) the Council member making this comment does not even appear to understand Charity Law! Let us be clear, any member of the public, BSS Member or not, has the right to query the actions of any Registered Charity or those of any trustee of such a charity. It would appear that no one on the present Council has ever attended any of the courses that their own Independent Examiner runs on Charity Law and on the role of the trustee. Maybe they should.
|Then, on the 11 September 2014 the Council emailed BSS Members with this extraordinary letter...||It clearly demanded this very necessary clarification from a group of Members to set things straight... [Click on any page for a PDF version]|
11 September 2014
Chris Daniel’s request for the return of booksI am writing to update you on developments since the September Newsletter (copy deadline 15 August).
Most regrettably, I have to report that Chris Daniel has not constructively engaged with the trustees’ efforts to arrive at an amicable solution.
•On 25 August the trustees made a formal offer to meet Chris Daniel’s original request in exchange for the Society’s logo and other related trade marks, currently all registered in his name with the Intellectual Property Office. He has chosen, despite repeated urgings, not to accept.
•Despite all evidence to the contrary (see material circulated with the June Bulletin and in the September Newsletter) Chris Daniel continues to assert that the books were a loan and demands they be returned on that basis. As the books were donated, both the Society’s constitution and charity law prohibit this as a legitimate course of
action available to the trustees.
•We have received a further communication from Chris Daniel’s solicitors despite both he and they having informed the Secretary they were ‘in abeyance’. An amicable solution neither requires nor involves solicitors!
The trustees have therefore concluded that not only has an amicable resolution been refused, but that the very basis of an amicable solution within the Society (the express wish of the membership) has been undermined.
The trustees have always wished to reach an amicable resolution with Chris Daniel — a founder member, major benefactor, and former Chairman.
We have indulged extraordinary behaviour and conduct (including requests/demands not based on fact, repeated dismissal of trustee comment, legal threats and threatening solicitors’ letters to individual trustees) that would not be tolerated from any other member.
The trustees have been both flexible and accommodating in their efforts to facilitate an amicable solution.
The opportunity was there for Chris Daniel to accept an amicable resolution within the Society of his original request and to draw a line under his dispute with the trustees and the Society.
That he chose not to do so is a matter of deeper disappointment to the trustees than it will be to the membership. It is now over four months since Chris Daniel informed the membership of his dispute.
The time has come to put this sad and sorry saga behind us and move on. The Society is far bigger than any internal dispute. The matter will now be considered closed.
With my best wishes to Fellow Diallists,
From: Douglas Bateman
DONATION OF BOOKS
Following the Newbury meeting and the brief discussions about the current problem I would like to make some comments, including support for our elected officers, and scanning the books.
I have known Christopher Daniel since the beginning of the Society and always found him to be the perfect gentleman, however, recent actions have been far from gentlemanly.
During the 10 years as Secretary I spent many productive hours alongside Christopher at Council meetings and on other occasions. During all this time, I never heard it mentioned that the books were on loan, indeed there was much euphoria at the time of the gift in March 2000, coinciding with finding a home for the library.
When Christopher interrupted the AGM in April he issued a letter to members together with a note by the former librarian, Graham Aldred, purporting to support the ‘loan’. However, it was Graham who used the word donation more than anyone else in reports to Council, other notes, and with his 50 page published catalogue of the library (Graham Aldred, Reference Library Catalogue, British Sundial Society, 2006). In this he refers explicitly to the donation of the books, and Christopher as Chairman wrote a Foreword, again using the word donation. Furthermore, the books were included as assets and the Chairman signed off the accounts each year. Surely if the donation had been intended as a loan, the opportunity should have been taken to correct the terminology.
Christopher grumbled over the time taken for Council to respond to his request for the return of the books, but Council meetings are infrequent, and he may have assumed, quite wrongly, that a meeting would be called specifically to discuss the matter. During this time I was asked if I could recall the use of the word ‘loan’. I have all the minutes that I wrote (10 year’s worth) on my old computer, and I could find no trace of the word. Surely a diligent search could hardly be construed as “intransigence”, and by then invoking the assistance of a solicitor Christopher himself initiated an “inappropriate” dialogue with “a distinguished learned scientific Society”.
To then follow with solicitor’s letters of a threatening nature to all the trustees is aggressive, to say the least.
Referring back to the discussions in Newbury, David Young decried the legalistic approach, but it must be pointed out that this is not new. Firstly, you cannot manage accounts without a framework, and some council members were becoming more and more legalistic.
I recall causing some dissension when I asked what Christopher (one fourth of the founders) had actually done for the Society. This is a distinction between qualitative and quantitative. In terms of published material, rather less than some other members, especially over the last 10 years. Some may mention the extensive published material in Clocks Magazine, and whilst promoting sundials generally, this was a source of income. (I know because I published quite a few articles in this journal and they paid well.)
I don’t wish to belittle his contributions of a PR nature, but if we are being true to ourselves then comparisons should be made in a more objective manner. Christopher has done nothing of an administrative nature and many others have made major contributions to the Society, collectively, far eclipsing Christopher’s work.
I also recall having to state that whilst Christopher has his supporters, some eminent members have made contrasting statements such as “disgraceful”, and “why does he want the books?” and “selfish”. In my opinion these members have status in the dialling world at least as great as Christopher’s. The point should be taken that support for Christopher is not unanimous.
It was noted at Newbury that my raising of the issue of the library may have precipitated the current situation. I raised my concerns, quite properly, at the AGM two years ago. So why now? Christopher’s supporters may like to find out, preferably by personal contact, what is prompting this so far, far, out-of-character behaviour. They could also point out that this process is damaging the Society and, more importantly, his reputation. What matters most, a few books or a reputation? “At ev’ry word a reputation dies”, Alexander Pope, The Rape of the Lock.
It would not surprise me if solicitor’s letters continued, perhaps to avoid going to court, with demands of a Machiavellian nature so that the Society would appear in the wrong whatever we did.
I now come to my main point. Instead of criticizing Council, they require support. They are our elected trustees and giving their time voluntarily. I have come across this problem in other organisations such that where there are some changes or difficulty, members tend to shoot the messenger forgetting that the ‘messenger’ volunteered to make the changes, generally with members’ approval! If Christopher’s supporters feel strongly about matters, then they should offer themselves for election at the AGM, assuming they are prepared to put in the hours of travelling time and effort.
Alternatively, any constructive suggestions should be made that take into account members who are strong supporters of a library, and the fiduciary responsibilities of the trustees. I can’t help noticing that those in favour of returning the books, seem to be overlooking (or even riding roughshod over) the democratic wishes of the library supporters!
It will be obvious that removing some or all of Christopher’s donated books will severely compromise the library.
My second and quite important point, is that we should gain something out of this with public benefit by scanning the rare books as soon as convenient, as already suggested, and make the results available on the internet.
Finally, I believe that Council should suggest that Christopher’s legal team take us to the Small Claims Court, or shut up. Or we ignore the demands. No matter that Christopher is “dear to our hearts” such bullying behaviour is inexcusable and I am strongly against any sort of appeasement.
Just one more comment, one has to ask just why Christopher and his legal advisers are prepared to create dissension within a society that he has been so keen to foster! Instead he should be grateful for having helped to create such a strong society.
Regrettably this matter is creating much unwanted effort in Council, but if we take a lofty overview, in the general scheme of things I am inclined to regard this matter as relatively minor.
Even the Royal Society was embroiled in disputes, some engineered by Sir Isaac Newton. Overall, I am confident that the Society, which belongs to its members, has a strong and continuing future.
Doug Bateman, September 2014
Having read the above letter, Christopher has not surprisingly, felt it incumbent on him to put the record straight.
Here is his emailed reply.
From: Christopher Daniel
Keep coming here for more in this quite unnecessary and utterly distressing saga ...
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