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SCAN examines the motion that was withdrawn from the AGM by Bee Morgan due to “legal advice.”
One of the more dramatic parts of the AGM on Monday 28 October was to be had for those who stayed right until the end. A point of order was raised about 20 minutes prior to adjournment that noted one of the motions contained in the Motion Booklet released on Wednesday 23 October was not on the agenda during the meeting. The exchange went as follows:
Jack O’Dwyer-Henry: Point of order. On the published agenda paper, as approved by the Democracy Committee, there is a motion for discussion and approval on amendments to the Articles of Association and Trustee Board powers and the Chief Executive. This motion hasn’t been discussed, this motion’s been left off the agenda. I’m just wondering why this has happened when the Democracy Committee approved this motion for debate?
Hannah Prydderch: I can answer that, basically we got requested to remove it.
Bee Morgan: On the grounds of legal advice it was best that we didn’t discuss it in this forum.
Callum Webb (chair): Ok, so very… oh dear…
Eabha Lynn (unmic’d): Point of order. Can we not get some more detail on what that legal advice was?
Hannah Prydderch: Basically, the rule is that the proposer can choose to withdraw the motion at any time for any reason.
Bee Morgan: I will consult with my legal advice and I promise that after this meeting I will try and publish some clarification once we’ve had a chance further to discuss exactly the implications of this motion, if that’s ok for you?
The motion in question was proposed by Bee Morgan, VP Education, and seconded by Hannah Prydderch, VP Union Development, and called for changes to the Articles of Association in order to make the Chief Executive more accountable to members of the Students’ Union. The current CEO is Claire Geddes, who took on the role in 2013, after Peter Elliott, who had held for the role for 28 years, retired. Ms Geddes is currently on secondment to the University to work on strategic projects, so Antony Blackshaw is Acting CEO in her place.
The proposers had put forward a resolution to discuss, during the AGM, “current issues around the inability to hold the CEO to account and ways the SU could improve this.” The proposals in the motion included changes to the Articles that would make the SU President, in their capacity as elected student leaders, the line manager for the CEO and therefore overall head of the staff team. It also proposed changes to give the Trustee Board the power to dismiss the CEO by a simple majority vote and made the Trustee Chair, i.e. the President, the person to whom complaints about the CEO should be addressed.
It noted that the current Articles have no process at all for dismissing the CEO, and that all the changes proposed in the motion had already been implemented by different Students’ Unions around the country, so were legal within the scope of existing charity and education law.
SCAN is not aware of who provided the legal advice in the case of the motion, nor who requested it. Any amendment to the Articles of Association requires a process involving the Board of Trustees and a vote of student members, before implementation by a special resolution at a Company Law meeting.
A Students’ Union spokesperson provided SCAN with the following statement: “The proposer of the motion withdrew it from the agenda of the annual general meeting following legal advice.” Bee Morgan also provided SCAN with the same statement.