BMF Chairman Mike Williamson has been banned from holding any post in the nationwide rider's rights organisation for three years after a disciplinary hearing. And Administration Director Don Lewis has been suspended pending a further disciplinary hearing.
The BMF has issued the following statement. And you'll be able to read more about this in MCN - out on Wednesday Feb 1. An addition to the statement was issued on the evening of January 30 and can be found on page two of this article.
The BMF Statement in full: "Following a disciplinary hearing, BMF Chairman Mike Williamson has been excluded from holding any BMF posts for a period of three years. The BMF’s Political and Technical Services Director, Anna Zee, will cover his post in the short term.
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"The hearing, held by the BMF’s Disciplinary Committee under the BMF’s internal disciplinary procedure, was held on Saturday the 21st January 2006 at the BMF’s headquarters in Leicester.
"In view of the fact that an appeal is pending, no further details will be divulged at this stage.
"With regard to the position of Don Lewis, Administration Director, he has been suspended from duties pending a formal hearing by the Disciplinary Committee and therefore no further details will be divulged.
"BMF spokesman Jeff Stone said: “These matters are an internal constitutional matter. They do not affect the day-to-day operation of the BMF or its employees. Neither political lobbying work or the BMF’s events, including the May 20/21 BMF Show at Peterborough, are jeopardised by these developments.”
"No other directors are subject to disciplinary procedures.
"No money is missing from BMF funds.
"All operations of the BMF are continuing as normal.
(continued from previous page)
"Further, the BMF wishes to state categorically that there has been no financial impropriety involved with these disciplinary charges. However, the BMF wishes to address speculation in some quarters surrounding a loss of money.
"The facts are that during the period 1990 to 1999 the BMF was the victim of a systematic and extensive fraud carried out by Company Secretary, Stephen Smith, of the East of England Showground, owners of the annual venue for the BMF Show.
"During this period, Stephen Smith systematically stole part of the gate takings from the BMF and from other major exhibitors who had hired the showground. He was discovered and suspended by the Showground management just seven days before the May 2000 BMF Show.
"A full-scale police investigation then followed through to July 2001. BMF Show organiser Mike Fairhead and BMF finance staff checked files and a statement given by Mike Fairhead helped to eventually convict Smith.
"Smith was arrested in September 2001. He appeared in court and pleaded guilty to 14 charges (3 of which concerned the BMF- 2 of theft, 1 of fraud). He was duly convicted and sentenced to 2 years imprisonment in March 2002.
"In all it was estimated at that stage that over the nine-year period; Smith had stolen an estimated £90,000 from the BMF. In October 2004 a claim was then made by the BMF to the Showground for £177,000 representing the original sum plus accrued interest.
"The Showground resisted the claim but eventually offered a compromise deal in return for dropping the financial claim. The Management Team approved this deal in January 2005 and it was signed-off by Mike Williamson on behalf of the BMF.
"Last year then saw a successful year for all BMF events making healthy profits and this despite bad weather reducing the projected income from the BMF Show.
"This statement is only a summary. When the BMF’s internal processes have been completed, the results will be made known to members."
This BMF statement is published in its entirety.