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BASCA responds to resignation of four Songwriter Committee members

By | Published on Wednesday 31 January 2018


Songwriter organisation BASCA has issued a lengthy statement following the resignation of four members of its Songwriter Committee – Kim Appleby, Barry Mason, Megg Nicol and Pete Woodroffe – on Monday.

The four resigning members delivered their own statement at a meeting of that committee in which they aired various grievances. These included issues with BASCA, the leadership of its Chair Crispin Hunt, the organisation’s relationship with collecting society PRS, and a recent HR investigation that led to the expulsion of four other members.

The HR investigation related to formal grievances originally raised by a senior staff member in 2016. Five members of the organisation were accused of bullying and harassment. An external HR specialist was hired to investigate and four of the five members were subsequently expelled, while the fifth resigned after being given a formal warning.

Commenting on that investigation in their resignation statement, the resigning members wrote: “There may well have been HR issues within BASCA, but they have been dealt with in an appalling and heavy handed way”.

On BASCA’s relationship with PRS, the resigning members took issue with Hunt also sitting on the board of the collecting society. While calling PRS “an incredible organisation that collects money from this country and all over the world and processes vast amounts of data”, the resignation letter adds that BASCA nevertheless needs to hold the society to account on behalf of composers and songwriters.

They state: “BASCA has a duty to hold PRS For Music up to scrutiny. In short, BASCA has to do all it can to ensure that the deals being done on our behalf are in the best interest of songwriters and with as much transparency as possible”. They then add: “Over the last seven years BASCA seems to be getting closer and closer to PRS and this can only be a bad thing for both parties”.

The decision of Appleby, Mason, Nicol and Woodroffe to quit BASCA also follows significant changes to the organisation’s constitution and internal structure, which were voted through by the vast majority of its membership at an AGM last month. In addition to the specific issues raised in their resignation letter, those changes may have also in part motivated the four songwriters to specifically speak out at this time.

Commenting on those changes shortly after last month’s AGM, Hunt said: “This is a massively positive, forward-looking step for BASCA and one that marks the beginning of a new era of improved inclusivity, respect, democracy, unity and purpose. We now have a real mandate from our membership to build a BASCA that is fit for purpose moving forward. I’m excited about what we’re going do in 2018 and my heartfelt thanks go out to everyone who backed this vision”.

In their response to Monday’s resignations, Hunt and BASCA CEO Vick Bain yesterday put out a joint statement which provides some detail about the aforementioned HR investigation and mounts a staunch defence of the way it was handled. The statement then concludes that Hunt and Bain feel they have a mandate from the “vast majority of our membership to take our organisation forward”, and that this “is a hugely positive step for all songwriters and composers and we are now focused on the challenges ahead”.

Appleby, Mason, Nicol and Woodroffe’s joint resignation letter has beenĀ published by Songlink here. BASCA’s formal statement is as follows…

In response to a formal grievance raised in September 2016 by a senior staff member against five BASCA members, citing accusations of bullying and harassment, BASCA instructed an independent human resources specialist to investigate the allegations and prepare a report into them. This action was in line with existing BASCA policy.

In November 2016, a second grievance was raised by the same staff member with further allegations of victimisation and retribution in relation to the subsequent behaviour of those named in the first grievance.

In March 2017, the board of BASCA convened to hear the conclusions of the investigation and after careful consideration it was agreed to uphold the findings of the report, which found that a number of the allegations of bullying and harassment were proven.

As a result, BASCA made a decision to terminate the membership of four of the five members named in both grievances for unacceptable and inappropriate behaviour, which was described as bullying and harassment in the report. One member was given a conditional formal warning but declined the conditions and chose to resign.

The remaining four members had the right to an appeal, which they elected to pursue. The independent barrister appointed as appeal officer has now delivered her report on three of the four appeals. The report’s findings were stark and concluded that the appeals failed and recommended that the board should maintain its decision to terminate membership.

In addition, at BASCA’s AGM which took place on December 12th 2017, votes were taken to make changes to the organisation’s constitution and internal structure. These changes were carried by 88% of the vote.

Subsequent to the decision to terminate the membership of three members and in response to the motions upheld at the AGM, four other members of the BASCA Songwriters’ Committee – Pete Woodroffe, Kim Appleby, Megg Nicol and Barry Mason – resigned from BASCA yesterday.

As part of their resignation this group put out a statement which appeared to condone the inappropriate behaviour that led to the expulsions whilst further making unfounded allegations against both BASCA and senior figures within it – all of which are fully refuted. We find this wholly unacceptable and therefore accept their resignations.

We feel that the mandate BASCA has now been given by the vast majority of our membership to take our organisation forward is a hugely positive step for all songwriters and composers and we are now focused on the challenges ahead.