British Showjumping chairman fighting to keep his job

  • British Showjumping (BS) is again beset with internal rifts after news was leaked to H&H of a vote of no confidence in chairman Michael Mac.

    The vote, passed at a recent board meeting, is not legally binding, but is another blow to the troubled body, which has suffered a torrid couple of years.

    No board members would speak on the record about the vote, but an insider told H&H it hinged on the failed attempt to replace the 22-member executive board with an eight-person management committee and lingering concerns over the 2009 expenses row, when Mr Mac defended claiming £20,000.

    No legal standing
    BS chief executive Iain Graham confirmed that the vote of no confidence took place at the executive meeting on 9 February, the first for five new members of the board.

    He said: “It was not a request to remove the chairman from office and has no legal basis.

    “Our solicitors Wright Hassall were at the meeting and explained that a vote of this nature is just an expression of satisfaction, or not, in an individual.

    “It was a confidential matter and I am very sorry that it has become public,” he added.

    Mr Mac has written a personal letter to all members of the executive and a meeting will be held later this month or early April, at which the board will decide whether it wishes Mr Mac to remain in office.

    Speaking to H&H, Mr Mac said: “What is discussed in our meetings is strictly private and confidential.

    “I am not going to breach my responsibility to the board by leaking what went on in that meeting. All I can say is that there are a few board members who are out to destroy British Showjumping by breaching this confidentiality and they should be the ones resigning.”

    Changes at the top
    BS has had three chief executives in as many years. Businesswoman and owner Di Cornish took over from Jacky Wood in September 2008, but gave notice in March 2010, advocating that the board should be slimmed down to a more manageable number as she left.

    Board members agreed to stand down en masse so an eight-member skills-based team could be elected (news, 27 May 2010).

    However, members then threw out the plans at the annual meeting, after learning Mr Mac and Claire Whitaker would automatically move on to the new board, as would Mr Graham, finance director Charles Purser and a new director of sport (news, 26 August 2010).

    Stormy meetings
    Following a series of “stormy” regional meetings, the plan was defeated again at an extraordinary general meeting in September (news, 30 September 2010).

    “The board has now taken the decision not to go ahead with the restructuring until 2012 [when a number of contracts come up for renewal],” said Mr Graham. “We have had too many changes of personnel recently.”

    This news story was first published in the current issue of Horse & Hound (3 March, 2011)

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