Barely three hours after the dramatic sacking of ACCA president-elect Ray Gardiner last Thursday, ex-president Michael Foulds handed in the chains of office to be passed on to John Brockwell.
This unprecedented turn of events has left the ambitions of Gardiner, a council member for 16 years, in tatters. It also raises serious questions about how, on the day he was due to take up office, the future president could be deposed behind closed doors and with scant public explanation.
An official statement said a 25-10 no-confidence vote had been taken to remove Gardiner ‘following discussion of various corporate governance issues’. But the real motives for his sacking remain unclear.
Gardiner asserts that he was the victim of his own desire to reform ACCA and to make it more accountable to members.
Although ACCA’s official spokesman refused to enlarge on the council’s statement, senior sources said the debate had centered on Gardiner’s involvement in a disciplinary case against former ACCA council member Robert Jackson, who was accused earlier this year of backdating Norwich Union policy applications to obtain free shares.
Gardiner acted as a character witness, but was unable to substantiate parts of his statement, later admitting that the facts had been compiled by a defence lawyer.
Senior council members argued last week that after such an admission, he could not be credible as the effective head of the disciplinary process.
Gardiner, who said he intends to stay on the council, wants his conduct to be the subject of a disciplinary inquiry which he claims will vindicate him.
According to ACCA insiders, the timing of the no-confidence vote was dictated by the appeal process in the Jackson case and did not reflect a last-minute decision to get rid of Gardiner. Other sources say Gardiner’s style upset other council members. At one local branch meeting he is said to have publicly torn up a speech which he said had been provided by ACCA head office.
Rejecting this argument, one insider said: ‘If that was all that was wrong, why did the council elect him as deputy president in the first place?’
Colleagues say Gardiner had long been known to hold views that ran counter to those of senior figures within council. One said: ‘He believes that council should consist of people who ask questions without fear or favour.’
At the agm, neither ACCA chief executive Anthea Rose nor Foulds responded to angry questions from members, who demanded to know why they had not been offered any explanation for the sacking.
A former council member said: ‘I believe they were just using an excuse to remove a man of immense integrity because they were scared of him.
It is appalling.’
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