I have been appointed by the former clerk to and four former members of the Mangersta Common Grazings Committee to represent their interests. Due to the wider implications involved for Grazings Committees throughout the Crofting Counties they are happy for me to make public my views on the actings of the Crofting Commission in removing them from office. The background involved can be found in my last blog post: ‘The Common Clearances’.
It is very clear to me that the Crofting Commission in deciding to remove the clerk to and the five members of the Mangersta Common Grazings Committee from office took a decision so unreasonable that no reasonable person acting reasonably could have made it. This is a settled test in law known as the Wednesbury principle. Furthermore that decision was based on a complaint concerning financial matters that the Crofting Commission had no remit to handle. The Crofting Commission’s own guidelines in this respect state:-
The Commission will not get involved in any matter relating to alleged financial impropriety. This is potentially a civil and/or criminal matter and should be dealt with by the relevant authorities.
I have therefore written a letter to the Chief Executive of the Crofting Commission calling upon the Crofting Commission to issue an apology to my clients and to reinstate them as members of and clerk to the Mangersta Common Grazings Committee without further delay.
It should in particular be noted that the Crofting Commission purported to appoint a Grazings Constable to administer the Mangersta Grazings Regulations. The Crofting Commission does not have the power to do so under section 47(8) of the Crofters (Scotland) Act 1993.
The only ability for the Crofting Commission to appoint a Grazings Constable falls under section 47(3) of the 1993 Act. This is where the crofters who share in a common grazing fail at any time to appoint a grazing committee and that clearly does not apply to the present situation.
If the Crofting Commission decide to remove a committee of five and a clerk from office they must appoint, or provide for the appointment of, five committee members and a clerk to replace them. Therefore the Crofting Commission has acted illegally in appointing a Grazings Constable and any actions taken by him are null and void.
This latest revelation compounds the allegations of abuse of power made against the Crofting Commission and highlights once more the urgent need for the Scottish Government to institute an inquiry into their actings.
Photo Credit: Dixon of Dock Green © BBC