www.RogerLyons.com FAQ
See also Lyons FAQ


Frequently Answered Questions - Based on an Interview with the Hendon & Finchley Times


How long has the site been running?

Your age and where you are based

Your reasons for setting up the site

What your ultimate aim is and why you are campaigning against Lyons in this way

Is it a bit of fun or serious pressure for him to go?

He hasn't really done anything wrong so why are you targeting him?

Do you have an axe to grind?



How long has the site been running?

Since July 2000

Your age and where you are based

41, London

Your reasons for setting up the site

I was outraged when I read the guardian article The all-expenses paid lifestyle of union leader Roger Lyons (down to the 25p bun)

I only buy the Guardian occasionally, but I use email every day. Other union members would email me newspaper stories as they came out and I began collating links to them. When I had a dozen or so it occurred to me that I could publish them on a web site. About the same time I thought the best and easiest name to remember for the site would be www.rogerlyons.com, I checked and it wasn't registered. Cost me $19. www.mfs.org.uk (Major Financial Scandal, a parody of www.msf.org.uk, the official union site) had gone, which is a shame.

The site is there mainly to let people know what is going on by providing links to legal documents, details of Lyons' expenses and newspaper articles. It also has some humour. It is not a propaganda site, unlike the dreadful MSF internal newsletter, MSF Works.

What your ultimate aim is and why you are campaigning against Lyons in this way

My ultimate aim is to get rid of what I see as the corruption in this union that oozes from the top down. I don't know if it infects the National Executive Committee but it must be either that or incompetence that accounts for their support of the cover up. The cost of the cover up is actually the most outrageous thing, at least 700,000 now even on the union's figures. Roger's expense claiming is shameful more for the pettiness of it all, and the contempt it shows to the subs paying members like me.

I would like the union to be more accountable to its lay (unpaid) members. In the rules the Annual Conference of lay members is the supreme governing body of the union, in practice the NEC just ignores or subverts it. The lay members' democracy is constructed into regional councils. By the end of July more than half the Regional Councils had passed motions for Lyons to resign or face a new, independent inquiry. The NEC have refused to print these motions in their minutes, let alone discuss them. My feeling is that the more people know about what has been going on, the sooner he will go.

I am using the web site and email mainly because I hate paperwork. Also my background is in IT, I find maintaining the web site relatively quick and easy. Email is particularly useful, with 10 minutes work I managed to email every single MSF employee last week and all 79 MSF MPs this week. I just wouldn't consider writing paper letters for that. It's early days yet for the technology, bizarrely things like this, that can be done easily now, may be much more difficult in the future. I gather they have now blocked my site and my mail shots.

Is it a bit of fun or serious pressure for him to go?

Definitely serious although there is much potential for humour, as you'll appreciate if you visit the web site, especially if you have a PC with sound. I've no doubt he will go, his position is untenable. He should have gone in May 1999 when the Certification Office first invoked their powers under the Trade Union and Labour Relations Act. This was just to get MSF to give up the relevant documents. The sooner he goes the better for our union and the trade union movement in general. MSF MPs are meeting tomorrow, he expects their support I think he will be surprised. Also the scandal is jeopardising the merger with the AEEU that his current friends are trying to push through. Amongst the staff there is a real culture of fear and loathing. I've talked to employees, visited sites and get email, the atmosphere is the worst I have ever come across in any commercial company. A union should never be run in a worse way than the employers it faces.

He hasn't really done anything wrong so why are you targeting him?

Well he has said that in his statement. However the internal and secret Fisher report Roger commissioned and regularly relies upon said:

' Two interest free loans of 4,000 and 2,000 had been made to the General Secretary. It would have been more appropriate for the General Secretary to have sought prior approval for these advances'

Sounds like unauthorised loans to me. It also says

'he should have sought authorisation for the video recorder and radio located at his home . Similarly in respect of petrol expenses on his holiday, the claim should have been authorised or a proportion not claimed'

Sounds like unauthorised expenses to me. These are just 2 examples of a large number of expenses Lyons has claimed, amounting to at least 7,300 over 2 years. The Guardian estimates it at 14,000 per year ( "Union chief claimed expenses worth fifth of salary" ). These include take away meals, a 90 briefcase and even expenses for meetings with Tony Blair and Gordon Brown at Downing Street (see the Times article ''Union boss put No 10 visits on his expenses' ). All this is documented on the web site.

Anyone visiting the site will rapidly be disabused of the notion that he has done nothing wrong. He is relying on there being no evidence of major fraud and false branch accounts, and trying to divert attention from his expense claims. Again the cost of the cover up and the victimisation of the whistleblower is the worst thing. Our union is being run in a way that few employers could stomach. And the hypocrisy: MSF campaigned for whistleblower protection, Lyons said in Dec 98

"The introduction of legal protection for whistleblowers will at long last shield those courageous people from victimisation and dismissal."

Then the union went on to sack and persecute the whistleblower that revealed all this.

Also in his statement he has twice mentioned his family to gain sympathy. I have never mentioned them on the site and I think Lyons is being particularly contemptible, especially as it appears that he is getting his son's friend to infiltrate meetings, get on the rogerlyons.com mailing list, and steal T-shirts.

Lyons has asked to be treated in the same way as ordinary members, yet I and five other lay elected officials of London region, including one elected NEC member, were suspended prior to investigation, I don't see Roger being suspended (or even properly investigated).

Do you have an axe to grind?

I have been a member since MSF started, and before that TASS and ASTMS, 15 years in all. I used to be a member of the Labour party but I left in disgust when they refused to support the Nurses' strike. Now I am not a member of any political party or grouping.

Currently I am Chair of my local branch (suspended), delegate to London Regional Council (suspended) member of London region management committee (suspended), treasurer London Region 97-99, (suspended), delegate to Annual Conference (suspended). The suspension predated an investigation (unlike with Lyons) and currently I am being disciplined. I am facing a minimum 3 year ban from holding office. All this is to do with the blatant vote rigging of the London Mayor selection. See second paragraph of this Guardian Diary My region wanted to recover the vote for its members, Lyons stopped us.

Obviously I am unhappy about this, and really I should be spending more time on it. I wouldn't say though that I am bitter or that www.rogerlyons.com is in retaliation. I think if it was you would read a lot more about the suspensions on the site and the site would be less factual and much more personal and propagandist.

I just want to be a member of an open, democratic and honest union. Is that too much to ask?

David

See also Lyons FAQ

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