Presidential row rocks the ACCA’s boat
(Accountancy, June 1999, page 15)

The ACCA has become embroiled in an embarrassing leadership row following an unprecedented chain of events. First the president-elect, Ray Gardiner, was dropped on the day he was due to take office, sparking accusations that he was muzzled for his outspoken views. Next a senior member of council resigned. And then questions were raised about the new deputy president’s background.

A group of former ACCA presidents passed a no-confidence vote in Mr Gardiner on the morning of the association’s agm, but failed to mention the matter at the agm later that day. Leaked reports of the action prompted Professor Prem Sikka — a vocal critic of the lack of transparency at the ACCA — to press president Michael Foulds for a statement. Mr Foulds cited ‘various corporate governance issues’ as the reason for Mr Gardiner’s removal, but did not elaborate.

The problem appeared to stem from Mr Gardiner’s involvement as a witness in a disciplinary case involving Robert Jackson of Thomson Morley Jackson, who was found guilty of backdating Norwich Union policy applications in order to receive free shares.

However, Tony Cruse — also a witness in the Jackson case-~ promptly resigned from the ACCA council in protest at the criticism he and Mr Gardiner received from council for their involvement in the disciplinary action. As a result, the ACCA agreed to launch an inde-pendent inquiry into the handling of the case.

Mr Cruse appeared to confirm speculation that Mr Gardiner’s fate was not sealed by the Jackson case, but that this was used as an 'excuse' to oust him because of his ‘strong views’ and his ambitions to make the ACCA council more open and accountable.

Mr Cruse criticised the council for restricting members’ ability to express ‘different opinions’ from the Official line. ‘I would say it’s almost got to the point where it’s paranoid about anyone saying any-thing out of turn. I don’t feel that personally I can do a good job for the people that elected me in the first place when my hands are tied from within,’ he said.

He described the council as largely 'new' and 'inexperienced' with a powerful hardcore handful of established members who are unwill-ing to embrace change. And with members forbidden to discuss certain issues, he said, ’that seems to me to be the end of democracy and I’m not happy with if

Mr Gardiner told Accountancy he believed he should be able to ‘ask questions without fear or favour’ and pointed out that had he become president, he would have moved to ‘review the relationship between council and its executive to ensure there was a proper balance, and furthermore to ensure within the executive that there is a clear segregation of duties.

John Brockwell was elected as the new president and Moyra Kedslie as his deputy. However, some members raised questions about the discovery that she had resigned a headship at the University of Hull’s School of Accounting, Business and Finance, fol-lowing an internal report recommending ‘a more open, inclusive and accountable approach to conducting its affairs

The ACCA denied that there were grounds to question Dr Kedslie’s appointment. Its spokesman insisted that there was no indication of bad judgment on her part, and to ‘suggest that there is any parallel between that and Mr Gardiner is ridiculous