BASCA has become embroiled in a major row with four members who quit the songwriters’ organisation in the wake of a bullying enquiry.
In an unprecedented move, the leadership at BASCA (the British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors) has today hit back with a robust statement challenging “unfounded allegations” from a group who left the Songwriters’ Committee in protest after making various claims about the organisation.
Music Week has seen the statement by Pete Woodroffe, Kim Appleby, Megg Nicol and Barry Mason that was read out at the Songwriters’ Committee on Monday (January 29). It makes various accusations about the role of chairman Crispin Hunt and the HR investigation into five BASCA members, which resulted in four being expelled and another resigning.
Describing a “climate of fear” and “disdain” for songwriters, the quartet quit the committee and resigned their membership. They also complained of an “appalling and heavy-handed” HR investigation.
However, the quarter of writers said the primary motivation for their resignation was concern over what they see as an increasingly close relationship between BASCA and PRS For Music.
“As the only body representing songwriters in this country BASCA has a duty to hold PRS up to scrutiny,” said their statement. “In short, BASCA has to do all it can to ensure that the deals being done on our behalf are in the best interest of songwriters and with as much transparency as possible. However, we don’t feel this is happening.”
BASCA did not respond to that charge in its own statement. But Crispin Hunt and BASCA CEO Vick Bain have outlined the history of the disciplinary procedure against five members – none of them are among the four who resigned on Monday – and rejected allegations made this week.
“As part of their resignation this group put out a statement which appeared to condone the inappropriate behaviour that led to the expulsions whilst further making unfounded allegations against both BASCA and senior figures within it – all of which are fully refuted,” said the statement.
Hunt and Bain also noted that 88% voted for proposed changes to the AGM last month.
The BASCA statement is reproduced in full below.
In response to a formal grievance raised in September 2016 by a senior staff member against five BASCA members, citing accusations of bullying and harassment, BASCA instructed an independent human resources specialist to investigate the allegations and prepare a report into them. This action was in line with existing BASCA policy.
In November 2016, a second grievance was raised by the same staff member with further allegations of victimisation and retribution in relation to the subsequent behaviour of those named in the first grievance.
In March 2017, the board of BASCA convened to hear the conclusions of the investigation and after careful consideration it was agreed to uphold the findings of the report, which found that a number of the allegations of bullying and harassment were proven.
As a result, BASCA made a decision to terminate the membership of four of the five members named in both grievances for unacceptable and inappropriate behaviour, which was described as bullying and harassment in the report. One member was given a conditional formal warning but declined the conditions and chose to resign.
The remaining four members had the right to an appeal, which they elected to pursue. The independent barrister appointed as appeal officer has now delivered her report on three of the four appeals. The report’s findings were stark and concluded that the appeals failed and recommended that the board should maintain its decision to terminate membership.
In addition, at BASCA’s AGM which took place on December 12 2017, votes were taken to make changes to the organisation’s constitution and internal structure. These changes were carried by 88% of the vote.
Subsequent to the decision to terminate the membership of three members and in response to the motions upheld at the AGM, four other members of the BASCA Songwriters’ Committee - Pete Woodroffe, Kim Appleby, Megg Nicol and Barry Mason - resigned from BASCA yesterday.
As part of their resignation this group put out a statement which appeared to condone the inappropriate behaviour that led to the expulsions whilst further making unfounded allegations against both BASCA and senior figures within it – all of which are fully refuted.
We find this wholly unacceptable and therefore accept their resignations.
We feel that the mandate BASCA has now been given by the vast majority of our membership to take our organisation forward is a hugely positive step for all songwriters and composers and we are now focused on the challenges ahead.
Crispin Hunt - Chair, BASCA and Vick Bain CEO, BASCA – January 30, 2018