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BCS turns down e-signature petition

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A petition to hold an emergency general meeting of the British Computing Society (BCS) has been turned down because the signatures were electronic.

BCS, known by some wags as the Dad's Army of IT or, thanks to a recent rebrand, as the chartered institute of IT, declined to consider a motion from 50 members demanding a debate over the direction of the UK IT trade organisation submitted last weekend.

The refusal came because the request came electronically and without the written signatures the BCS says are required, Computer Weekly reports.

The EGM motion idea has previously been criticised by BCS vice president Bob Assirati as a disruptive move by a vocal minority at odds with the organisation's £5m modernisation plans. The dissidents are reportedly upset by a lack of communication with the organisation's 70,000 members over how and when the money is being spent.

The motion, backed by IT lawyer and former BCS president Rachel Burnett and other former BCS trustees, calls for a vote of no confidence in the BCS executive and a moratorium on spending on the BCS's transformation programme.

However, a spokesman for the BCS said that it was the form the request came in - and not the merits of the case for a sit-down - that prompted the knock-back. Lawyers consulted by the BCS told it that signatures petitioning for an EGM had to come in handwriting. A simple list of names, verified or not, was apparently no good.

"Signatories means 'physically signed' by unless otherwise defined," the BCS told the mag. "At this point we have received an email requisition for an extraordinary general meeting; we have not received 50 signatures.

"BCS has absolutely not rejected a request for an EGM motion. We were expecting to receive a letter with physical signatures attached as required by our bylaws."

The BCS wants the written signatures of at least 50 members who support the motion - along with their membership numbers for verification purposes - before it is prepared to proceed. The email it received on Sunday from the motion's co-ordinator, Len Keighley, containing a list of names is no good, the BCS maintains.

Keighley has reportedly gone back to the supporters of the petition requesting signatures both in electronic and handwritten form. ®

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