Seckford Foundation make light of real act of harassment against campaigner

SchoolA Suffolk anti-free school campaigner was recently shouted at in the street, sworn at and had campaign leaflets snatched from him and thrown to the ground. In my view this is clearly a real act of harassment.

You might remember that the Seckford Foundation sent me a long legally worded letter from their lawyer Chair of Governors, Roger Finbow alleging that I had “harassed” Seckford staff. What I was supposed to have done was make phone calls persistently asking for information, written blog articles and “chased” Seckford Director Graham Watson who was driven off out of the back entrance of Lowestoft Town Hall in a powerful Mercedes. When I say chase I was on foot!!

I guess as far as these allegations go I am guilty as charged but I have consistently maintained this is investigative journalism and political campaigning and not harassment.

I have agreed to avoid telephoning Seckford except to leave brief messages not least out of respect for their poor junior staff who appear to be used to “shield” senior staff who refuse to answer the phone.

You would therefore imagine that Roger Finbow would be horrified by hearing about this much more dramatic incident. Indeed I am certain this incident would not only legally count as harassment if repeated but would be a public order offence and assault.

However Finbow dismissed this incident once it was brought to his attention with these words:
Roger Finbow 
Finally, I must address the point you make about having been sworn at and barracked, and having had leaflets taken from you and thrown on the ground. I am sure you are not making the implication that these acts, which I deplore, were perpetrated by representatives of the Seckford Foundation. They were not and never will be. I suspect you probably discovered that there are at least some members of the local community who disagree with you.
Now nobody is suggesting that the Seckford Foundation have either carried out these actions directly or expressly asked others to do so. Indeed the “victim” here says he would never seek any redress as he thinks you need a thick skin if you are engaged in this kind of thing which is a fair point.

As a Director of Ipswich Town football club though Finbow will be no stranger to taking responsibility for the actions of supporters. Just as a football club cannot abscond responsibility for the bad behaviour of its fans I do not think the Seckford Foundatiion can for those who support its free schools. So far we have seen:
  • Anti-free school campaign posters ripped down (Ixworth)
  • Verbal abuse of campaigners and grabbing of leaflets (above)
  • Anonymous letters sent to employers/schools
  • Anonymous phone calls made to employers/schools
  • Complaints made to employers/schools designed to stop people campaigning by members of local campaign groups
In every single one of these cases Seckford wash their hands of the behaviour and effectively say “nothing to do with us Guv”.

But they have set the tone of debate that has made this kind of behaviour seem acceptable to their supporters. Graham Watson goes on the radio saying campaigners “set a bad example to children” and an anonymous letter arrives days later saying exactly the same thing of me at the small primary school I have been Chair of Governors at for six years.

Seckford need to get their own house in order. Instead of pretending to be the “victim” they need to take steps to control the behaviour of their “useful" local supporters.
Seckford Foundation 809501081089533295

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