The G15's allegations of theft
Posted by: Mike Clark
Date: April 20, 2009 04:27PM
Like many members of the SCCGB Ltd I find the G15's continuing allegations that Jeff has stolen computer kit and software from the Club very distasteful. I therefore decided to find out what all this is about.
The basis for this allegation of theft is explained in the G15 newsletter "The Pilot" which says that an "IT expert" employed by the G15 has concluded that in order to produce the magazine many bits of computer kit would be needed along with specific items of software. The G15 argue that since Jeff did not pass these over to the G15 representatives when they went to his house, he must have stolen them from the Club. It does not seem to have occurred to the G15 that Jeff might have purchased the equipment and software himself from his own funds.
The fact is that the computer equipment and software inherited by Jeff when he took over the magazine in 2003 have been replaced by Jeff at his own expense over the last 5 years as they failed or became outmoded. While these defunct or superannuated computers were handed over by Jeff, he obviously had no obligation to hand over items which he had purchased himself and did not do so. There are some other items where the issue is a little less clear which I will now spell out so that members can make up their own minds as to whether any theft has taken place.
The kit involved boils down to two flat screen monitors, a scanner, a printer and an external hard drive.
The monitors were purchased by Jeff at his own expense for a cost of £256.15 in December 2006. Jeff mentioned his use of these at the time of the 2007 AGM and, unasked by Jeff, the Meeting, with much support from members, decided to increase his Editor's Honorarium for the year 2007/2008 by this same amount. The monitors were therefore never entered in the Clubs books as assets. It could be argued that the Club still has some claim on these but the sum involved, after factoring depreciation at 33% p.a. would be no more than £50. The dual function video cards needed to operate these monitors as a single unit for magazine editing were purchased by Jeff as they are within his own computer system and not part of the monitors.
When Jeff took over as Editor from Bob Dyke he already had his own scanner and printer which he then used for Club purposes. When these eventually failed they were replaced out of Club funds, and Jeff still has the replacements. The scanner costing £58.04 was bought in January 2006 and the printer a year earlier and both are now of negligible value. Accounting convention is for items costing under £100 to be written of in the year of purchase so neither the scanner nor the printer are of any value on the Club's asset list. By the way the "IT expert" of the G15 is wrong - the printing company employed to print the magazine operates with 300dpi and so does not require the use of an expensive specialised 4000dpi scanner. I would regard it as entirely reasonable that Jeff should inherit both the scanner and the printer since that puts him back exactly to where he was when he took over as editor and the Club has had 5 years use of scanner and printer and depreciated their cost down to zero.
The external hard drive was purchased in June 2006 at a cost of £99.98. This too stands at zero on the asset list.
As to the software, yes indeed Jeff has been using Quark 7.1 publishing software and Windows XP Pro and Office 2007, all of which were paid for by, and are licensed to Jeff. On taking over as Editor there was an early version of Quark (of doubtful legitimacy). Windows 98 and Office 2003 were purchased by the Club for the then current computer, although they were never installed as Jeff obtained Windows XP himself. The unopened software packs for W98 and Office 2003 were among the items collected by the G15. The current software used in the production of the magazine has all been paid for by Jeff and is licensed to him so the Club has no call on it whatsoever.
I would like to know which other items of computing kit the G15 lay claim to. I would also like them to explain how and when the SCCGB Ltd purchased these items and if the Club did pay for them why they do not feature on the Club’s list of assets? I find it hard to believe that significant expenditure could be made by the Club without it passing through the Club’s accounts or being noticed by the treasurer at the time (Joy Davis) as she reconciled expenditure with cash at the bank.
If the G15 cannot provide evidence from the Club’s accounts or banks statements to prove that further equipment was purchased by the Club they must withdraw their allegations.
"The Pilot" also complains that the two computers collected from Jeff by the G15 had their hard drive disabled. Neither of these formed part of Jeff's current working computer system. Both machines were superseded and not able to handle the software now used to publish the magazine and one was in any case defunct. Both were effectively scrap awaiting disposal. Any person scrapping or recycling a computer in today's age of identity theft must realise that simply reformatting the hard drive is not enough to clear it of private date and that it must be physically disabled and this is what Jeff had already done, with an electric drill, thereby protecting not only his own files but also Club material such as the membership list from those of evil intent in computer scrapping circles. I recall that Mrs Davies' reluctance to hand over the computer which she held for 6 months and refused to pass on to the new Secretary was based on concern over her private data.. When the computer was eventually handed over its hard drive had been reformatted in the hope of removing private data. This is also why Jeff did not hand over the external hard drive.
During his editorship of the magazine Jeff has developed a personal interest in computers and their usage and has spent a significant sum of his own money to further this new hobby. The SCCGB Ltd has benefited greatly from Jeff's knowledge of and ownership of the most up to date equipment and software to produce the magazine which has been done at minimal expense to the Club. In fact he could quite reasonably have made a charge to the Club for the use of his system. He did not.
In the absence of a capable enthusiast such as Jeff able to prepare the magazine it will now be necessary for the Club to have all the electronic print setting done by the printers at considerable extra cost. Jeff's combination of computer expertise with his wide knowledge of steam is precisely why members are so supportive of Jeff in his production of the new Club's magazine.
So in summary there has been no theft and the allegations should be withdrawn. I understand that the G15 are not speaking to those of us who have been "suspended", and for rather different but obvious reasons Jeff is not prepared to speak to anybody from the Group. However it is very clear from the above that the allegations of theft are quite unjustified and should the G15 wish to privately discuss the matter to save the Club from further fruitless legal expenditure I would be happy to act as an intermediary if contacted by email.
It is quite extraordinary that the present management of the SCCGB Ltd are prepared to spend huge amounts of money, possibly eventually using up all the Club's funds, making threats of Police involvement and causing so much bad feeling by their allegations of theft over such a trivial issue. There is little doubt that among the members of the G15 there are some who do understand accounting and must know that this is an issue blown up all out of proportion.
As to the G15's suggestion in The Pilot that “We must question whether this is why they are calling for the Club to be wound up - simply so they can keep these assets for themselves?” Which planet are they on?
One can only assume that the G15 hope to bamboozle members into following their cause. I think, having read the facts above, members will be singularly unbamboozled.
Edited 4 times. Last edit at 04/20/09 06:27PM by Mike Clark.