BCS trustee threatens rebels with libel action

Model railway enthusiasts or professionals?

Rebel members of the BCS have been threatened with libel action unless they withdraw claims that appear to question the probity of the organisation's Trustees.

The BCS is the midst of £5m 'transformation' programme that includes re-branding to "BCS: the Chartered Institute for IT". Such moves have not gone down well with some members.

Over 50 people have joined calls for an Extraordinary General Meeting, which will be held on July 1. There will be a vote of no confidence in the current board of Trustees and BCS chief executive David Clarke and a call to suspend spending on the multi-million pound change programme.

The two sides have been arguing online and via mailing lists.

But now one of the trustees, Ken Olisa, has sought the immediate retraction of what he regards as libellous remarks made in calling for an EGM.

In an email to one of the critics, Olisa demanded "that you and the other 5 signatories withdraw the unwarranted slur on my good name, apologise forthwith (copying the recipients of your message) and undertake in the same correspondence not to repeat the libel".

The email added: "I take my reputation very seriously and will have no hesitation in pursuing you and your co-signatories in the Courts unless I receive an unequivocal apology."

Ken Olisa told The Register that he was disappointed that his email had become public but stood by his actions. He said: "This is a personal action but the essence of being a professional is surely honesty and integrity so I must defend myself."

Olisa said the row over the future of the BCS was whether information technology was to be seen as a true profession, like doctors, with a truly professional body representing it, or if it was to continue to be regarded as a club for enthusiasts. He compared the current view to that of model railway fanciers.

He said it was a democratic organisation and the direction would be decided democratically by its membership.

The row has clearly traumatised some members, with accusations of bullying, threats and even blackmail being made in documents seen by The Register. Some members have already resigned in disgust at the changes being made.

The existing management is determined to push what was once called "the Dad's Army of IT" into being a proper professional body.

You can follow the arguments via the BCS site and the rebels' wikipage.

Members can vote online, by post or in person at the meeting on 1 July. ®

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