In an extraordinary twist it has transpired that the BBC reporter Kevin Magee, who published the malicious and false allegations, is the brother of one of the Charity Commissioners, the SDLP linked Seamus Magee. This incredible conflict of interest was not disclosed by Kevin Magee in his BBC report, or to me as the subject of his ‘investigation’, the height of which appeared to be sitting with a discredited and self-appointed ‘expert’ in London- at tax payers expense- in a farce resembling a scene out of murder she wrote.
The ‘expert’ Elaine Quigley- who is not listed in the official UK list of expert witnesses and who describes her role as “tailoring her services to those who come to her”- once claimed to have read Tony Blair’s mind via his handwriting, only for it to transpire that the handwriting was actually scribbles made by Bill Gates. One would have thought Ms Quigely’s ‘expert’ credentials may have been reviewed after this. Not so it appears.
This all came in the context of the BBC’s Kevin Magee confirming prior to broadcast that the whole story was designed to “create as much mischief and as many problems for Jamie Bryson as possible”. It is a matter of grave concern that a public service broadcaster thereafter continued to platform the malicious falsehoods.
During the 30 minute interview conducted by Kevin Magee he repeatedly referred to ‘public probity’- yet nowhere in his contribution did he disclose that it was his own brother that was not only the original source of the story, but who had legal responsibility as a Charity Commissioner for ultimately coming to a determination on the allegations advanced by his own brother for BBC Northern Ireland.
Seamus Magee also took to twitter to ‘like’ his brothers work- astonishing behaviour for a public office holder with statutory responsibilities to ultimately investigate the very allegations being advanced by his brother. This from an individual that lectures others on declarations of a conflict of interest!
This is not the first time that Kevin Magee has had a remarkable ‘insight’ into the internal workings of the Charity Commission- he also pursued stories against the Disabled Police Officers Association, Derek Tughan and others, as well as using his role in BBC Northern Ireland to act as a propaganda platform for the Charity Commission. It is understood others affected by leaks from the Charity Commission to Kevin Magee are now also considering legal action.
Far from stumbling on to the story- it is alleged in a High Court writ lodged today that the Magee brothers conspired together to encourage John Dallat MLA to write to the commission in order to ‘strengthen’ their story.
It is not clear whether Kevin Magee declared to his BBC bosses the huge conflict of interest that existed given his brother’s senior role within the Charity Commission, or not.
However the shambolic investigation by Kevin Magee was described by one BBC insider as an “utter sh*t show” which was little more than “someone thinking they had got Jamie Bryson and getting so excited they turfed out the window all ethical BBC standards and wasted public money running a ‘special investigation’ that would barely have a small sidebar in a newspaper, yet still managed to get it all horribly wrong.”
In the BBC’s online report the headline screamed Jamie Bryson ‘forged signature to verify accounts’– thus stating as fact I had committed a criminal offence. Placing the assertion in quotation marks was clearly an effort to put a degree of separation between the BBC and the assertion as fact I had ‘forged’ a signature, yet nowhere in the article is the assertion quoted attributed to anyone. It is clear therefore that the factual assertion comes from the BBC, and Mr Magee who frequently throughout interview alternated between asking whether I had ‘forged’ a signature to stating as fact that I had ‘forged’ a signature.
The headline remained in place even after the supposed ‘victim’ of this forgery, Pastor Mark Gordon, had categorically stated there had been no forgery whatsoever. Magee also continued to refer to what was clearly a printed name as a ‘signature’. Given the whole purpose of the smear story, it is unsurprising that Magee steadfastly refused to engage with Pastor Gordon to seek clarification on whether in fact there had been any forgery.
The BBC however did not even bother to read the Charity Commission guidance on the submission of independent examiners reports to the commission- if they had bothered to do so they would have read at Appendix 12.16 that there was no requirement for a signature on the version of the examination filed with the commission and furthermore that the examiners name could be simply typed as a ‘signature’. Therefore there is nothing in the guidance which would prohibit a third party printing or typing the name of the examiner with said persons permission, so long as the original trustees copy was formally signed by the examiner.
This means that even if the BBC’s huge tax payer funded investigation was accurate in their allegation Pastor Gordon’s name was printed in my handwriting, then what would the wrongdoing be?
The BBC further alleged that I had submitted the relevant documentation to the Charity Commission and therefore would have fell within the scope of Section 25 of the Charities Act 2008- in fact I hadn’t submitted the documentation at all. I could of course have outlined all of this to Mr Magee prior to his smear story, but why would I? As the old maxim goes, never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake.
This story exposes a huge conspiracy at the heart of the Charity regulator and raises serious questions for Seamus Magee. Were the leaks to his brother about this ‘story’, and other charities, designed to influence the commission’s internal ‘risk assessments’ and thus lead to statutory powers being deployed against charities that in the absence of media headlines would not be deemed ‘high risk’?
What influence does Magee’s SDLP links have in this politically driven skulduggery, which on this occasion utilised John Dallat MLA as part of their conspiracy to target a small charity, and indeed me personally.
Complaints have been made to the BBC, information commissioner, Charities Commission and High Court proceedings lodged. A number of MPs have reacted with astonishment at the conflict between the Charity Commissioner Seamus Magee and his BBC brother publishing allegations relating to charities being regulated by CCNI. It has been suggested that both Magee’s should consider their publicly funded positions following these revelations.
I look forward to the outcome of the numerous complaints. One friend asked me why I agreed to the Magee interview at all given I steadfastly refused to engage with his malicious allegations. I was reminded of a scene out of Top Gun- sometimes you got to just let your enemies charge forward unloading all their bullets, and then hit the brakes and let them fly right by!