In my last blog post I looked at who pays the Grazings Constables. This post will disclose how much they get paid.
In comments on the Island News & Advertiser when they published a letter from Colin Souter, the grazing constable for Upper Coll (illegally appointed in my opinion and the opinion of others, including the Crofting Commission itself) it was suggested that the going rate was £30 per hour.
Colin Souter disputed this figure. As that was, apparently, the figure obtained via a Freedom of Information (FOI) request in connection with the remuneration of the Mangersta Grazings Constable then perhaps different grazings constables have been paid different rates. If so then this would reveal yet more inconsistencies on the part of the Crofting Commission!
Another FOI request has disclosed that as at 1 July 2016 Donald Harrison (Mangersta Grazings Constable) had been paid or was due to be paid £4,659 and Colin Souter (Upper Coll Grazing Constable) had been paid or was due to be paid £1,227.85.
The Mangersta Grazings Constable had been carrying out activities (albeit illegally) much longer than the Upper Coll one at that point. Today the Mangersta Grazings Constable is no longer in ‘office’ but the Upper Coll one still purports to be and is no doubt still accepting payment for his activities despite the risks of so doing outlined by Donald Rennie.
@sweenyness @CrabbitCrofter Yes! At compulsion of @croftingscot. But bear in mind that as he is illegal he shouldn’t be paid a penny
— Crofting Law (@CroftingLaw) 16 July 2016
The Constable has taken away the Upper Coll cheque book and has had all the signatories removed and the bank says they cannot do anything about it. If he is to be paid he will have to write the cheque himself, but then would that be any more unbelievable than the rest of the saga?
You might want to consider involving the Financial Ombudsman and/or the boys in blue.
This is beyond extraordinary. Can we know which bank allowed such fraudulent activity? Banks are meant to have all sorts of checks to prevent fraud – the original signatories should have filled in and signed forms saying they agreed to a change of signatories, the bank should have demanded signed minutes of the meeting where it was agreed to change signatories and they should have demanded a new bank account was opened as there is now only a single signatory (committee bank accounts should require two signatures on an cheque). Without these actions, no responsible bank should have allowed this to take place. That they allowed this on the basis of a dodgy ‘order’ from the Crofting Commission that has no legislative financial authority to issue it and who knew the constable was illegally appointed is astonishing. A letter to the manager copied to his boss pointing out it appears they have allowed bank fraud to take place will make them sit up and take action. Send a copy of the documents the Crofting Law Blog posted showing the Commission knew the appointment of the grazing constable was illegal.
So the Commission is allowing someone illegally appointed to skim a committee’s bank account. As they knew appointing the constable was illegal, I reckon the Commissioners who sanctioned this action will be personally liable for any action the grazing committee or shareholders take against the constable and the Commission. The Scottish Government will not stand by them. But why is the Scottish Government not taking immediate action to stop and make good this shocking episode of illegal activity by one of its public bodies? Its unbelievable.