20 December 2019

We continue to receive comment and questions from Members about the circumstances surrounding the expulsions of Hilary Barker and Angus MacGillivray, from membership of the HCS. We know members are being encouraged to contact us on the basis of false information on these issues so this news item puts the facts out again. It also makes clear there is no link whatsoever between the expulsions and the Jedderfield dispersal sale at Oban in October.

Angus MacGillivray was expelled from membership on 22 November after a grievance against him for verbal harassment and bullying of our new Breed Secretary was upheld. The complaint included shouting and swearing and repeated criticism and undermining of another staff member. During the grievance process Hilary made unfounded allegations apparently intended to raise doubts about the integrity of Anne-Marie and repeated attempts to interfere and disrupt the work of the grievance panel appointed to investigate Anne-Marie's grievance against Angus.

Since then there have been suggestions that the expulsions were for "whistleblowing" related to mistakes we made in handling the dispersal sale of the Jedderfield fold at Oban in October. This is completely false. We did make mistakes and we have apologised for them. There was confusion between us and United Auctions at various stages; there were far too many HCS people involved; we made assumptions and did not follow all of our own processes. We have made every effort to contact those directly affected and no health issues at all have been discovered. We have carried out a thorough review of what happened and put measures in place to ensure there will be no repeat. The expulsions were entirely unrelated to the Jedderfield sale issues.

Council discussed the expulsion issues around both Hilary and Angus at great length, exploring all possible options before making those difficult decisions. We had professional HR and legal advice throughout. Both Angus and Hilary have given many years service to the Society and their contributions will be sadly missed. But, their behaviours were totally unacceptable and we cannot allow our staff to be subjected to them. Neither of them has apologised or shown any recognition of the effect their actions have on others.

Highland Cattle Society Council

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