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Sustainable Shetland call for heads to roll

ANTI-Viking group Sustainable Shetland has called on the chairman of Shetland Charitable Trust and the charity’s two most senior officers to consider their position after a hastily arranged special meeting was suddenly cancelled.

The campaign group allege that chairman Bill Manson, chief executive Ann Black and the trust’s financial controller Jeff Goddard have failed to ascertain whether holding such a meeting was legal or not.

On Thursday, the trust announced a special meeting for Monday to discuss a £6.3 million funding application by wind farm developer Viking Energy, of which the trust is a 45 per cent shareholder.

It would have been the third attempt to release these funds.

The meeting, three days before the council election on 3 May, was requested by seven councillor/trustees – Gussie Angus, Jim Budge, Addie Doull, Betty Fullerton, Robert Henderson, Andrew Hughson and Josie Simpson.

The move by the seven created an outcry in the community and led to a steady stream of letters to the local media and comments on blogging sites.

Following intervention from the charity regulator OSCR on Friday afternoon the meeting was cancelled the following morning.

OSCR ordered the trust that it “must not make a binding decision in relation to any investment in the Viking Energy project, beyond the £3.42 million previously invested, before 5 May 2012.”

Reacting to this latest twist Sustainable Shetland said on Saturday that the trust’s chairman and his chief officers had failed the Shetland public.

“In order to keep our SCT funds safe in the future, and to prevent further erosion of public trust in SCT, Sustainable Shetland urges Bill Manson, Ann Black and Jeff Goddard to consider their positions,” the group said in a statement.

Its acting chairman Andrew Halcrow added: “Had it not been for the timely intervention by OSCR, Monday’s Charitable Trust meeting would have gone ahead and been in breach of OSCR regulations – an extremely serious matter.

“SCT’s involvement in Viking Energy has been marked by a lack of integrity due to trustees’ conflicts of interests and a culture of secrecy.

“Sustainable Shetland calls on prospective trustees to restore integrity and transparency within Shetland Charitable Trust.”

It is not yet known on exactly what grounds the regulator had intervened. A request to release OSCR’s “direction” to the public remained unanswered on Saturday.

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