SUMMARY OF EVENTS SURROUNDING THE MOTION OF NO CONFIDENCE IN RAY GARDINER
At a disciplinary hearing in January/February 1 999, the firm of Thomson Morley Jackson (TMJ) and four of its partners were disciplined for submitting a large number of backdated applications for Norwich Union (NU) Insurance policies with a view to obtaining freeshares in NU upon flotation . The firm and partners were severely reprimanded and fine and costs totalling £25,000 were imposed. They did not appeal.
Robert Jackson, one of the partners involved, was a member of ACCA's Council and, under ACCA's bye laws, automatically ceased to be a member of Council on the disciplinary order imposed on him taking effect.
Two other members of Council gave evidence at the disciplinary hearing. Tony Cruse, a former chairman Of the Disciplinary Committee, sought to criticise ACCA's handling of the case. The Committee declined to hear him as an expert witness because of his lack of independence; it did, however, agree to hear evidence from him as to Mr Jackson's character.
Ray Gardiner, the then Deputy President Of ACCA, submitted a witness statement regarding a conversation with Robert Jackson immediately prior to the NU flotation. The statement described the conversation in precise words which were supportive of the defence case. Under cross-examination, however, Ray Gardiner admitted that he could not recall the specific events described in his statement; he acknowledged that the statement had been written for him, and that he had merely signed it. It later transpired during the hearing that Mr Jackson had prepared the statement.
Following the disciplinary hearing the independent chairman wrote to ACCA to express her concem at the involveement of th two Council members in the hearing. It was, therefore, appropriate that ACCA Council should consider the corporate governance issues arising from the case and determine whether Council's Standing Orders on the Roles' and Responsibilities of Council Members should be extended.
At the meeting of Council of 22 April it was agreed to make additions to Council's Standing Orders. Tony Cruse requested, and received, an assurance that the issues he had raised with regard to the conduct of the disciplinary case would be reviewed by an independent solicitor, whereupon he stated his intention of resigning from Council.
Council also had before it a copy of Ray Gardine's witness statement and relevant extracts from the transcript of the disciplinary hearing; in addition, Ray Gardiner submitted a letter stating that he recognised his particular responsibility, as Deputy President, carefully to consider the appropriateness and implications of giving evidence.
At the end of the debate, a member indicated that, at the next meeting of Council, he intended to move a motion of no confidence in Ray Gardiner as an Officer. This motion was discussed at the Council meeting in the morning of 6 May and passed by 25 votes to 10.
Council elects its officers at the first Council meeting following the AGM - in this case, the afternoon of 6 May. While it is normal for the incumbent Deputy President to be confirmed as President, there is no requirement to this effect and any member of Council may be nominated for election. After the no confidence vote, Ray Gardiner did not stand for election as President; the Vice President, John Brockwell, agreed to let his name go forward and was elected unopposed.
ACCA takes its responsibilities as a statutory regulator seriously.
In the TMJ case, it ensured that no member of Council served on the panel
for the disciplinary hearing; subsequently, in anticipation of the enactment
of the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, it
has Withdrawn all Council members entirely from its disciplinary and regulatory
committees. The TMJ case, and the subsequent response to the corporate
governance issues which arose, have demonstrated that it is possible for
ACCA effectively and independently to discipline a Council member.