UpdateDr. Bevis originally promised a Scottish charity, and claimed to be consulting experts on Scottish Charity Law. We waited. The Scottish charity never materialized. Now - exactly as feared below - Dr. Bevis has found a means of claiming charitable status without subjecting his accounts to public scrutiny by registering the Highland Titles Charitable Trust for Scotland in Guernsey .... the secretive Channel Islands.
What proportion of revenue is spent on conservation? How much goes on salaries and directors' remuneration? This would be public information for any organisation in Scotland that claimed charitable status; here it's a secret. The only publicly available information available for Guernsey registered charities, is their name and address, that's it, nothing else.
If he really was consulting experts on Scottish Charity Law, perhaps his question might have been how to circumvent it! Anyone who takes this registration at face value is truly deserving of the "one born every minute" epithet.
Original ArticleLast week, Highland Titles held their much vaunted meeting of the gulli .. errr customers at Glencoe House. It was announced some time back that at this event the first Annual General Meeting of the charity which was being set up to manage the Highland Title Nature Reserve, with election of trustees, would take place. The AGM vanished from the schedule before the event, and I can find no mention of any such meeting having taken place at the event.
I can find no mention of it on the Highland Titles website, or on their Facebook page, it wasn't mentioned in a Mail on Sunday article (rather aptly headed "Gathering Of The Shams"!), nor in a piece the Daily Mail did on the event. So, it would appear that this charity has not been set up and was in fact more bluff & deceit in order to gain credibility by using the cachet of involvement in a charity. If anybody has any information regarding this and knows that Highland Titles have in fact been involved in the setting this charity, please let me know and I'll correct this post accordingly.
Schedule from18/02/2013 (now you see it)
Schedule from15/05/2013 (now you don't see it)
Of course there is now no mention of this charity on the Highland Titles website, but fortunately Mr Bevis did mention it elsewhere.
http://www.bletherskite.net/2011/02/23/end-to-buying-a-fake-scottish-title/#comment-11756"In a few months, management of the Nature Reserve passes to a membership charity that will manage the estate"
"Yes, of course the charity number will be published. The charity is being formed by our solicitor, Colin Liddell, a Specialist in Charity Law with the firm J & H Mitchell WS of Pitlochry"http://www.bletherskite.net/2011/02/23/end-to-buying-a-fake-scottish-title/#comment-11751
"In 2013, The Highland Titles Nature Reserve moves into the control of a Scottish charity run by a membership of thousands. The lies and spin perpetrated by two or three small minded bigots will not change that fact."Where is this charity now? Nobody seems to know, the whole idea seems to have vanished. Unless Highland Titles can come up with this charity it would appear the lies and spin mentioned above belong to Mr Bevis, and the critics are proved correct once again. Perhaps they did actually apply to set up a charity but were refused. A fairly likely scenario in my opinion.
So, a question for Highland Titles, what happened to this charity? My email address is displayed on the right hand side of this page if you would care to comment and give me the charity registration number, and I will amend this post accordingly.
There is an excellent post over at the scots-titles.com forum by Andrew on the missing Highland Titles charity, which I'll reproduce here in full.
"Dr. Bevis attended the October 10th 2012 meeting of the Duror and Kentallen Community Council. According to the minutes:
“Dr Bevis said that it his intention to pass the enterprise over to a suitable charity, run by a local management committee; and he would then pass over control.”
Certainly some of his comments on Bletherskite are barefaced lies (“I do not clone websites.” Ha!), but did he also stand up and lie to the local Community Council? Did he assume that the charity story would swing opinion behind him, and in a few months' time everyone would have forgotten it?
It’s not possible to be certain. I incline towards the view expressed on the Lochaber Highland Estate blog that he did apply for charity registration but was turned down.
Dr. B explained on scotstitles-faq.blogspot.com (August 16th 2012) why he would never register HT as a charity: “If we registered as a charity, which we could easily do, we would have less money to spend on conservation, not more, as our accountancy costs would be considerably higher.”
Palpable garbage of the first order. Two-bit community charities with revenues of only a few hundred manage the accountancy burden just fine... and most of them don’t benefit, as HT does, from a director who studied accountancy at university.
The real problem, of course, is that registering as a charity would expose HT’s accounts to public scrutiny. As it stands, despite previously being described as a not-for-profit, HT’s accounts are not even subject to the same scrutiny as a regular UK for-profit because of the Alderney registration.
Then Dr. B had a lightbulb moment: HT remains the completely opaque money-handling end of the operation and he registers a Scottish charity to own the plots which HT will periodically throw wodges of cash at.
As we have it in his own words that (because of the tax regime in Alderney) charity registration would afford no benefit, it is purely a stunt.
The upshot of this wizard wheeze is that he gets to dangle a bona fide Scottish charity in front of his customers, bolstering his conservation credibility no end, while the business end is hidden under a thick Channel Islands fog.
So clearly unacceptable you have to admire the audacity. Dr. B does tend to assume he can pull the wool over everyone’s eyes. And experience has often borne him out. The course of events suggests that (assuming HT ever did attempt registration!) the Charity Commission turned out not to be quite as dopey as he’d bargained on."
UpdateRather bizarrely Highland Titles have claimed a copyright infringement of the screen captures of their Meet The Neighbours Glencoe House itinerary shown above, http://www.chillingeffects.org/dmca512c/notice.cgi?NoticeID=978560
Not that it matters, it provides confirmation of the accuracy of my screen captures and the disappearance of the charity AGM from the itinerary, which can be confirmed by looking at the images stored on the Highland Titles website of which I am supposedly breaching copyright of.