Did May’s Scottish stunt breach contract, force a charity to breach its articles? #GE17

As the SKWAWKBOX covered on Saturday evening, Theresa May’s latest ‘campaigning’ event consisted of a tightly-controlled appearance at a remote village hall in Crathes, Banchory to speak to a small, invite-only audience – the latest in a string of bizarre visits to empty factories and talks to ‘crowds’ of tiny numbers of people.

Mrs May was at pains to avoid any interaction with members of the local community, pointedly ignoring one local man who called to her to ‘meet the public’:

So keen were May and her handlers to avoid such interactions that they booked the village hall for a ‘birthday party’ under a false name, to prevent the locals getting wind of the event and turning up inconveniently.

And that’s where the (bigger) problems start.

Crathes village hall is an SCIO – a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation. As such, similar to charitable trusts, it has to produce a statement of its purpose. As SKWAWKBOX reader John Spencer-Davis pointed out, Crathes’ statement is quite short, only two pages long – and it’s very specific about whom it exists to serve:

crathes trust.png

The document makes clear that the hall is for the benefit of local people, is owned on behalf of that community and needs the local community to be ‘fully engaged’ with it.

Yet local residents were turned away when they tried to attend:

That’s not all. The terms and conditions of the trust’s hall bookings go even further:

crathes tc

The ‘Ts and Cs’ applying to bookings make unequivocally clear that:

  1. the hall is for use by members of the community
  2. the halls hirers may only use the hall for the purpose specified
  3. by booking the hall, the hirer accepts items one and two along with the rest of the terms.

Theresa May is by no stretch of the imagination a member of the Crathes community – the SCIO document defines the community area as:

bounded by the River Dee on the south, the Hill of Fare on the north, and extending to five kilometres east and four kilometres west of the hall

Not Downing Street, Whitehall nor Westminster. Not May’s Maidenhead constituency, either.

The terms also state that the hall must be used for the purpose stated at the time of booking – and May’s team apparently booked the hall for a birthday – a ‘Burnett’ children’s party, to be precise:

crathes party

So, Theresa May and her team appear to have made a false declaration during the booking, to have broken the terms and conditions they agreed to by booking – and to be ineligible to use the hall anyway.

And by doing so – and in preventing the local community from attending the event or having access to the hall during it – they appear to have forced the Crathes Village Hall SCIO to breach its own statement of purpose as well.

In stark contrast to Jeremy Corbyn’s towering start to his campaign – which has seen Labour close the gap in voting intention polling by thirteen percentage points in just nine days – Theresa May’s campaign started dismally and has descended into abject farce and possibly illegality.

No wonder May and her campaign appear to be in disarray and to be running scared.

The Banchory situation also raises the question whether this is standard operating procedure for her campaign and they are booking all their venues under false pretences.

If you work at a venue that is to be used by Mrs May – or if you have details of her schedule so that this blog can verify with the venues how the bookings were made, please email skwawkboxclp@outlook.com.

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  1. How low can May and her campaign team go? Have you contacted the Crathes management about this?

  2. Alexander Burnett is the Conservative MSP for the constituency and lives nearby.
    It might have been his idea of a good birthday party for one of his kids.

  3. Alexander Burnett of Leys is the local landowner, a descendant of NIcholas I of Russia and the local Tory MSP. Crathes Castle was the family seat for centuries; some of them may still live there. The hall will have been booked in his name; it’s not a special sort ofchildren’s party. He may or may not have instructed his tenants to make up the crowd.

  4. The name ‘Burnett’, is the local landowing family…and the heir to the estate is also the area Member of the Scottish Parliament for the Tories since 2016. Same guy failed to win the Westminster constituency seat in 2015.

    There have been some comments floating round, (several sources – but none personally seen firsthand) that a number of the estate tenants and employees were “encouraged” to attend the event!!

    Very Dickensian….should maybe go full 19th Century, and make it a rotten borough?!

  5. You may have this info already. Some of the audience were Estate worker who were told to turn up. See Craig Murray’s blog about that.
    One man was invited at very short notice, he thinks because he works for an Arab oil company. He and his partner were 3feet from TMay but were not allowed to interact with her. This info came to me through Twitter from the man’s sister.

  6. This is downright dishonesty and constitutes false pretences. Utterly unacceptable. Mrs May does not represent me in any way. We would be very upset if someone similarly booked our village hall, although we do let it to outside organisations.

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