Published on 9 - July - 2009
BHETA issues injunction over confidential emailsThe debate on our sister site HousewaresLive.net regarding the proposed merger between BHETA and the BJGF continues to rage following news that the association has been granted a restraining injunction against member Charles Harrison to stop him from publishing confidential BHETA material that has come into his possession.
However, Harrison says he will defend the claim - despite being warned that the case will run into tens of thousands of pounds.
Harrison, who has instigated a rebellion against the British Home Enhancement Trade Association's proposed merger with the British Jewellery, Giftware and Finishing Federation, yesterday received a letter from the association's solicitors warning him not to reveal the content of three private emails that have passed between the association's directors.
The letter said that should Harrison "choose to publish them you will be in breach of the confidentiality obligation that you now owe to BHETA. If you breach that obligation I am instructed that BHETA will take action against you by way of injunction."
Yesterday, Harrison told HousewaresLive.net: "I will be advising BHETA that I will not publish the documents for 24 hours to afford it the opportunity to obtain the restraining injunction."
Now, BHETA has gone ahead with its threat in an attempt to prevent Harrison from divulging the information in the confidential messages.
Today, Harrison told HousewaresLive.net that BHETA's solicitors had advised him of "significant costs" being incurred by BHETA in making its application and in pursuing its claim against him.
He said the solicitors had also warned that the costs would run into tens of thousands should he defend the claim - costs that BHETA would ultimately seek to recover from him.
However, Harrison remained defiant, saying: "I confirm that I will defend the claim."
No one at BHETA was available to comment.
The news has prompted a huge amount of industry response and comment. Below are the comments from HousewaresLive.net. But what do the DIY members think? Have your say and comment below.
By Martin Russell - MD Amefa
I think in todays market when retail is suffering one of its worst recessions that it is appauling that a trade Association is spending its time fighting the people it is supposed to support, spending money in todays market should always be a considered approach and those elected or paid to run such Associations should either be more open to the members who are in essence the people they report to...
I for one after sitting back and watching the appaulling behavour develop would now be looking for changes within the Association and by that I mean its leaders!
By Roger Morgan-Grenville
The injunction that BHETA has secured on Charles Harrison has simply had the effect of turning a story of very marginal interest to most of us into one of increasing concern. If there is nothing to hide, then why try to hide it?
By David Slater
One can only speculate just how damning the contents of the blocked communication must be to warrant taking such extreme measures.
By Mark Boddy MD The Housewares Group
I would trust Charles harrison over the board of BHETA wouldnt you ?
By John Birch ISV Solutions Ltd
Is serving an injunction on Charles Harrison an efficiant use of BHETA s funds ? What do the board have to hide ?
By Simon Silverwood
How have we come to this?
Can it really be in the interests of members for our Association to be incurring "substantial legal costs" in order to prevent a fellow member from circulating information relating to this fiasco?
One of the central objections to the merger has been the dearth of information available to ordinary members. What is happening now appears to be compounding that criticism; In my name, and yours, our Association is wilfully spending money in an attempt to gag a fellow member.
I ll be quite clear: my initial involvement in this matter was due to the surprise announcement of Pam Plant s resignation. I was dismayed at the prospect of losing access to Pam s experience, knowledge and integrity. The mildly interesting tremors that began to radiate from within BHETA were of little interest to me. BHETA is a Trade Association. Its significance to my business is frankly minimal. Its position in my list of daily priorities? Low. But, and it s a big but, I do care about people and I do care about what is being said and done in my name.
Criticism, initiated by Charles Harrison, of the concept and execution of the proposed merger has brought various skeletons out of the cupboard. In the past few weeks we have received conflicting reports from BHETA Directors and a significant alteration to the resolution being proposed at the EGM. The same EGM which, as we all know, the Board fought hard to avoid. I regret to say that the trickle of information that has finally begun to emerge has been notable for the reluctant circumstances of its release. And now, as each week passes, it seems that BHETA feels compelled to bring-out ever bigger sledgehammers with which to attack Charles Harrison and his concerns. This latest move to gag him with a court injunction and at the same time to suggest to members that HE is responsible for subsequent delays and costs, is frankly pathetic.
It may be that a merger with BJGF would benefit members, but how can an ordinary member make a considered judgement without access to all the facts? In today s post, I received 16 pages of bumph from BHETA, clearly designed to persuade members that the Board s new, watered-down resolution represents an entirely reasonable proposal. And so it seems. But what interests me, what nibbles away at the back of my head, is:
1/ There are clearly details that the Directors don t want me to know, and therefore:
2/ The same Directors want members to vote without having had the benefit of a fully informed debate.
If you take away just one thought from this overlong diatribe, may it be this: PLEASE don t just send-in a proxy vote. If you can possibly spare the time, come along on 23rd July with an open mind and listen to both sides of the argument before you make a decision.
SUPPORT FOR CHARLES HARRISON
By ALAN COSBY/CHAIRMAN/KENTBRUSHES
SOMETHING IS DEFINITELY ADRIFT WITH THE PROPOSED MERGER OF BHETA WITH THE BJGF IF THE DIRECTORS HAVE CAUSE TO WASTE ASSOCIATION MONEY IN TAKING OUT AN INJUNCTION? DO THE BRUSH, DIY AND HOUSEWARES MEMBERS REALIZE THAT IT IS GOING TO COST IN EXCESS OF 1.7 MILLION TO JOIN THE BJGF WHICH ACCOUNTS FOR APPROXIMATELY 2/3RDS OF THE BHETA'S ASSETS! I WOULD URGE ALL MEMBERS OF BHETA TO QUESTION THE REAL MOTIVE OF THE DIRECTORS TRYING TO PUSH THROUGH THE EGM PROXY ON THE 23RD JULY TO JOIN THE BJGF? I FOR ONE WILL VOTE AGAINST THE MOTION AS THE WHOLE CASE PUT FORWARD BY CHARLES HARRISON MAKES SENSE. IF YOU HAVE NOT READ THE HARRISON CASE GET A COPY FROM INFO@CATENT.CO.UK PEOPLE WHO HIDE BEHIND INJUNCTIONS HAVE GOT SOMETHING TO HIDE, AND WHAT RIGHT HAVE THE DIRECTORS GOT TO WASTE THE ASSOCIATIONS FUNDS ON THIS INJUNCTION, AND POSSIBLE FUTURE DEFENSE? BULLYBOY TACTICS THREATENING THE ONGOING COSTS COULD RISE TO TENS OF THOUSANDS DOES NOTHING TO ENDORSE MY FEELINGS TOWARDS THE DIRECTORS OF BHETA;THE WHOLE ISSUE IS HIGHLY SUSPICIOUS AND QUESTIONS NEED TO BE ASKED TO PREVENT A MERGER.
By Neville Singer
How sad to see our trade association take such an action against one of its own members! (The injunction against Charles Harrison)
Whether right or wrong, the question that must be answered now to everyone's satisfaction is what is in the mysterious e-mails that is so sensitive that BHETA feel it should be suppressed?
A secondary question also occurs to me:
Were the whole board of BHETA consulted on this injunction and were they in total agreement?
By richard gilbert
I read somewhere that BHETA acknowledged a lack of effective communucation to members regarding the proposed merger with BJGF.
Have lessons really been learned? In which case, if true, what kind of effective message does the serving of an injuction on Charles Harrison give to members in advance of the EGM on July 23rd and what benefit can there possibly be to their members of what must be a very costly undertaking?
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