Wednesday, 11 April 2012

The Decline of City Tattersalls Club - who is to blame ? (Part 3)

There is no question that City Tattersalls Club has gone downhill dramattically since Tony Guilfoyle started in the top job. But he is only an employee, answerable to the Committee. It is the Committee who are supposed to be in charge, in this or any other members club. So who is to blame ?

Patrick Campion - a study in weakness
When John Kennedy decided not to run again, because of the rising anger over his role in the Bookmakers Superannuation Fund, he was replaced by Patrick Campion. Campion, a solicitor, had been the Vice Chairman under Kennedy and had been on the Committee since 2005. Campion's key personality trait is that he is weak. He never really takes a stand on anything - he just goes along with whatever others have decided. There is no record of him ever standing up for members.

Campion;s track record - before becoming Chairman
Since Campion's time on the Committee coincides exactly with the the decline of City Tattersalls Club we need to have a closer look at his track record:
  • First and foremost, since he joined the Committee, Campion has gone along with everything that Tony Guilfoyle has done to the Club. And that means everything. Every reduction in member amenities, every bit of waste (fees to consultants, overseas trips, legal fees etc), every failed project (Zest, the Coffee Cart, 194 Pitt Street etc) - you name it, Campion supported Guilfoyle om it. Not once did he question anything. And it also means that he voted for every pay increase and bonus that Guilfoyle has ever received.
  • Campion blindly followed John Healy and John Kennedy on everything they did to restrict or remove the rights of members trying to save the Club.
  • Campion was on the Committee when a donation of $80,000 was paid to a clinic in Moree run by his brother, Michael Campion (but never disclosed to members).
  • Campion was Vice Chairman when he, along with most of the Committee, discovered that an employee had taken over $200,000 without their knowledge. Naturally Pat decided to do nothing about it.
  • Campion's role in the Supreme Court case deserves special mention (see below).
Patrick Campion and the Supreme Court case
Campion's role in the Supreme Court action is very interesting for two reasons - he is a solicitor, and he specialises in defamation, which would be central to the case.

The basic facts of the Supreme Court case are fairly simple. A website devoted to City Tatts posted two articles - one explaining John Kennedy's role in the Bookmakers Superannuation Fund and another detailing a potential conflict of interest involvimg Tony Guilfoyle. A member was expelled by the Committee on the grounds that he was responsible for the website and he took action to have his membership reinstated. It is clear that there was no benefit to members from the Club's action. It was done purely to protect Kennedy and Guilfoyle. From a variety of sources we have been able to piece together Campion's role in the case:
  • Kennedy and Guilfoyle were watching the website, and getting legal advice on it from Bartier Perry, from January 2010 but did not tell the Committee until April 2010.
  • This is the explanation for the so-called Committee Executive mentioned in the Club magazine. There is no Committee Executive - that was just a way for Kennedy to justify the delay in informing the Committee. In fact, the Club rules have provisions for setting up a Sub-Committee. But they didn't suit Kennedy because they would mean that the Committee would set the terms of reference of the Sub-Committee and also require that minutes be kept of any meeting - which defeated the purpose of what Kennedy wanted to do.
  • Campion's initial reaction was that the website was fairly harmless and that there was no need for the Club to do anything.
  • When the rest of the Committee decided to expel the member Campion agreed with them !
  • The Club (ie. Kennedy and Guilfoyle) claimed that the website was defamatory. Every court in the country would have rejected that idea since the website basically pointed out what had been obvious for years - that the Club was going downhill under present management. And truth is an absolute defence to defamation. If Campion knew anything about defamation he must have known that the defamation case was nonsense.
  • After the member served notice of his intention to take action in the Supreme Court, Campion altered the minutes of the earlier meeting to make it appear that he had given the member a fair hearing before voting to expel him. (Bet you never thought anyone would find out about that  - eh Pat ?)
  • The Club's legal tactic was essentially to bully the host of the website. They basically said to him - "just sign an affidavit to say that the expelled member was responsible for the website and we will drop any action against you". Did Pat have any problem with this blatant blackmail? - Not at all, he specifically mentioned in his own affidavit how he was confident in expelling the member because of the credibility of the web host's affidavit !
  • But Campion's key move was during the week leading up to the hearing in the Supreme Court in September 2011. The case essentially rested on whether the Club had given the member a fair hearing or had just decided to get rid of him without any real cause (the legal term is "pre-judgement"). The problem for the Club was that the summons served on the member before they expelled him pointed strongly to the latter - that they had pre-judged the member. Campion's legal tactic was to get the entire Committee, including himself, to swear an affidavit that they were not aware of the contents of the troublesome summons !
  • Let's just stop and consider what Campion is asking the court to believe here:
  1. In a case which will be decided on the issue of pre-judgement, Campion simply swears an affidavit to the effect that he has not pre-judged - how simple is that !
  2. Campion, a solicitor specialising in defamation, never bothered to read the summons - in a case where the Club's stated reason for taking action was the website's alleged defamation !
  3. Campion was happy to spend over $100,000 of members' money to expel one member with no knowledge of the contents of the summons. 
Save City Tatts Committee

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