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The truths they don't want you to read....

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Legal action in Uist

I am told that Angus MacMillan, the Chair of Storas, has commenced the first stage of a libel action against Calum MacMillan.

The grounds appear to be that Calum has claimed that Angus has profited personally from his position as Chair of Storas, and with particular reference to the ongoing wind power disagreement/dispute.

No doubt this will be a very entertaining process - at least for those not directly affected - and it will undoubtedly touch on the issues of fish farm leases; unsigned agreements; conflicts of interest; the role of a shadow director; that directors of Storas have been acting with probity in every situation; and acting for the benefit of the community as a whole.

In the interim, given the obvious conflict of interest, Angus will have to be kept away from anything to do with Calum dealings with Storas, and the other directors and staff will have to do their utmost to maintain the Chinese walls.

As soon as copies of the documentation are available, I'll post them here.

"War is a continuation of diplomacy using other means." Carl von Clausewitz


Anonymous said...

Are the two macmillans related?

Anonymous said...

9:22 It's the Outer Hebrides. Everyone is everyone else's first cousin.

Anonymous said...


The three macmillans are related; Angus is a cousin of Calum who is a brother of John MacMillan - the vice chairman of Storas.

Perhaps with both the chair and vice chair now having to declare an interest in any discussion relating to wind farms, the rest of the board might have the wit to bring a bit of common sense to the proceedings.

Anonymous said...

maybe Storas should have hired someone with negotiating skills. Calum MacMillan has the space booked on the cable to export electricity, Storas need some of tha space and Calum is willing to give it to them but with conditions attached. It would seem (according to Heb News) that these conditions are not acceptable to Storas so they have turned him down. Where does that leave both sides? Storas with a wind farm that cannot reach its potential and Calum with extra export space he does not require. Would it not have made more sense for Storas/Calum to keep negotiating until they reach a position where they can agree something which is as near to what both of them want? Or are there too many outside forces at work?

Anonymous said...

since the start of storas there's been controversy after controversy
this from a company that was set up to promote prosperity,harmony and unision.perhaps the members should look at the current senior management and consider whether they possess the negotiating/communication skills that are required to move the company forward.!

it would be interesting to hear how other community buy outs are faring

Anonymous said...

Exactly what have the people of Uist got from a chief executive that is drawing a salary of £50k per anum?

Any one of the agencies that supply estate managers, Bell Ingram, Graham and Sibbald, Bowlts, etc, could have supplied an experienced manager for probably £20k less.

That would have ensured that at least we were not saddled with an incompetent welsh clown that has created only tension and ill feeling.

An EGM called by the shareholders, and some open and honest debate, may be the only way to get out of the current shambles.

Anonymous said...

The fact that he is Welsh is neither here nor there. He may or not be a clown- I have never met him. But he is an employee of, and should be directed by, the board of directors. I note that the chair of the board is a person of undoubted ability, judging from his own successful business. But I wonder if he has the right skill set for his current role. The chair should be a diplomat, balancing one side with the other, and steering a middle course acceptable to all.

Anonymous said...

The chair should not be one of the movers and shakers in the organisation, but should have the personality and quiet gravitas to keep meetings under control.

I strikes me Uist must be able to produce somebody with the appropriate skill set to chair such an organisation in a non-confrontational way.

It seems to me that Storas Uibhist has had one confrontation after another, and some of them predate the arrival of Huw. (Askernis, Murdo MacKenzie, Calum MacMillan) And the groundswell of opinion I hear on the island is not very positive.

Anonymous said...

What is desperately required is some real diplomacy, and a chair with the wisdom of Solomon to keep all the opposing factions in harmonious rivalry, but not open warfare. I am not convinced that somebody who has been in charge of his own business for such a long number of years would have, or want to have, that personality.

Maybe one of those who have resigned in the past could be persuaded to bring things back onto an even keel, failing which a completely new person might be necessary.

I am not saying for a minute that Angus is bad for the organisation- on the contrary, I would say he has been a tireless driver of enterprise in and around the company. It would be a considerable loss if he were to leave or be removed from the company, and I am sure the company will prosper and thrive with his drive and enthusiasm. The company is very lucky to have somebody like him on board.

But not as Chair.

Anonymous said...

3.53 / 4.12 / 4.17

Thanks for your contributions. I know next to nothing about the detail of the controversy, but it's good to see contributions that seem balanced on common sense, not parochial, vituperative, personal and racist. Well done!

Anonymous said...

3.53 pm

The continual references to the CEO being welsh is a deliberate reference to his sensitivities, the clown bit comes from his virtuoso performances in diplomacy and negotiation.

Not withstanding the continual blundering around the island armed with a pack of attack lawyers who are unleashed at the first hint of a challenge to a Storas edict, it was the drearily predictable response on a personal level within the community that had elevated this individual to clown status.

The incident in question took place in Daliburgh school where apparently during the course of kids playtime a passing referebce was made to engilsh / welsh origins.

Your man, CEO of the local community company, then proceeds to bring the police in to the classrooms, alleging that a 'racist' incident took place, the perpetrators of this heinous crime ranged from 9 - 12 years old.

Old bill duly investigated and a lengthy letter was eventually issued by the education dept of the council asking that a line be drawn under the whole incident.

Given that this is how the local kids are treated, is it any wonder that he / Storas have singularly failed to engage with the community.

Anonymous said...

Whats wrong with being Welsh?

Anonymous said...

But racism starts at school in the playground and these children are presumably only repeating what they have heard at home so it is fair enough that the incident is investigated and the children realise that this is unacceptable behaviour.
There is too much bigotry up here and it causes many problems.

Anonymous said...


The point that is being made is that if you are the head of an organisation that claims to represent the community you have to attempt a bit of diplomacy, and certainly a fair amount of tact in handling any issues that arise.

This could have been done in the first instance through liasing with the school. Instead, the CEO chose to use the police which then elevates any complaint to a completely different level.

How difficult would it have been to - say - use the differences between the welsh culture and the gaels as a positive learning tool; not an attempt to criminalise kids.

Sadly, his behaviour in the use of the clumsy iron fist is reflected in his various dealings within the community, presumably wholly endorsed by the Storas board.

Anonymous said...

"Presumably wholly endorsed by the Storas Board"

A critical point 11.10, I would say. If he is endorsed by the board then it is a problem of the whole board. And if he is not endorsed by the board, them it is still a problem for the whole board. It doesn't matter which way you look at it, the buck stops with the board. If he has responded in this way, and the board does not support him then it is up to the board to bring him to heel.

But I thought this post was about the absurdity of one MacMillan accusing another MacMillan of defamation?

Perhaps they should call their granny.

Anonymous said...


The post is about defamation article but the thread has teased out the psyche of the board and that of the CEO. Previous posting by Angus exposed the role of Brian Wilson with Storas Uibhist.

The inside track has it that Storas are desperately trying to shut down any opposition or negative press as their funders are begining to get nervous and ask questions.

Question: I say, have you had an excellent response to your public meetings regarding the £20m scheme for Lochboisdale.

Answer: Absolutely overwhelming, we had to put on a second pot of tea, and the rascals ate all the biscuits. There must have been at least five of them, mind you there were eight of us so I suppose that explains the biscuit situation.

Anonymous said...

The community trust biscuit funds could be added to the Osbourne cuts list.

Anonymous said...

How sad. How sad that what was a wonderful opportunity for the island to throw off the shackles of landlords who used the island as a plaything has degenerated to such degree.

It has probably now got to the stage that all the acrimony cannot be unravelled without a great deal of damage being done.

I'm not sure that I would characterise Angus as The Duke of Sutherland or Huw as Patrick Sellar, but there does seem to be a bit of a hark back to the past here. Landlord and agent speak, and the serfs do as they are told.

Mind you, some of the vitriole that comes the other way doesn't help either. Not particularly in this thread, but I have seen some real rubbish written on here. The perpetrators of that may think they are being highly amusing, but they serve only to antagonise, and contibute nothing positive.

People need to think through to the end game, and what will happen if these conflicts and controversies are not resolved, and quickly. People need to get off their high horses, and talk to each other as Uibhisteach to Uibhisteach, and not as uachdaran and iochdaran.

And by the way, being Welsh is not relevant. Being aloof, distant and high handed is. Being cousins is not relevant. But, this being Uist, maybe it is!!!!

Anonymous said...

Well done 6.35am!
The end game is what has been missing all along. The forces of government, HIE etc. regarded the end game as the buyout. But that as we all can see now was only the beginning.
Where do we want to be in ten, twenty years time?
And how do we get there?

Since a fair amount of the acrimony has arisen from landlord vs. tenant issues, should the estate management be separated out and run as an arm's length operation, under the ownership of the company but run as a benevolent estate?

And is there the appropriate experience in the board to act as landlords? Perhaps the board should co-opt a member of the Stornoway Trust on to the board of Storas Uibhist to share experiences, at least for a couple of years.

Anonymous said...

Cheers 1030. Yes, I was up early this morning.

My opinion, for what it's worth, is that the best thing woul d be if Storas Uibhist, at the local level, acted as a facilitator, a catalyst, a stimulator of economic activity in Uist where entrepreneurs showed a willingness to invest in the place.

As just one example,Calum McMillan had the gumption to reserve the space on the electricity export cable ahead of a wind farm development. But Storas' attitude seems to be that this upstart should know his place and should get back there so that they (Storas) can now implement their own wind farm development. In short, Storas Uibhist must be the only arbiter of what happens in Uist, and never mind the fact that Calum showed the gumption they themselves lacked.

It all smacks too much of the uachdaran knows best - something every Uibhisteach must have thought they left behind on the day of the buy-out.

Questions need to be asked about the running of Storas Uibhist. Is it really to be the fiefdom of the chosen few, where apparatchiks are appointed to do their bidding? That is symptomatic of a Stalinist dictatorship.

Any manager, be that the chairman, chief executive or development officer, in any business should be accountable for what they have achieved. In the real world, a budget, based on a business plan, would be agreed and implemented. If this budget did not go according to plan, the manager would be asked to explain why. He/she would be given the opportunity to influence the budget so that it came back on track. If this couldn't be achieved, then the manager would be replaced with someone who could deliver what had been agreed in the first place.

The Storas questions should now be
Was the business plan feasible in the first place?
If it wasn't, why was it agreed?
What, if anything, can be done to put the paln back on track?
If it can, why did it go off track in the first place?
If this was due to people (and it almost invariably is), what is being done about these people?

I'm sure that Storas Uibhist's funders are (or soon will be) asking these questions of the board. I'm sure they will find answers will be very interesting.

The board have the corporate responsibility for the company. Put another way, the board carry the can for the company. They need to identify what the problems are, take them on, and deal with them. They may, or may not, have the capability to deal with them, but do they have the guts to accept that, in many cases, Storas Uibhist is the problem, not the solution. Do they have the humility to admit past mistakes and then put them right?

Will they prove themselves to be the board of a community company, or the apparatchiks of a Stalinist dictatorship?

Anonymous said...

6.35 10.30

Both are spot on. The community are willing to draw a line under the series of blunders in which the Storas board have become embroiled. However, for this to happen Storas have to engage with the community and not treat it simply as an inconvenience in the apparent running of Storas as a private company. Thus far at least the CEO and board appear to be out of their depth. on a number of fronts.

The islands can be a very harsh place in which to try and exploit a community, and it is with considerable regret that I view the past 3 years and see the vast amount of goodwill that has simply been squandered by Storas.

We don't need throw money at non island consultants when there is a wealth of island talent that are more than capable of writing reports, whether on engineering, social, crofting, and marine matters. If not actually living on the island, there are many that would 'come home' if there was a way in which their talents could be utilised.

Neither do we have to throw money at the pack of vulture lawyers that are slinking along in the shadows. Just exactly how difficult is it to resolve what usually begin as relatively minor disputes in a calm and dignified manner, without having the lawyers and courts as a first port of call.

How difficult would it have been to use the weight of public support to negotiate constructively with the council and the government, bring them on side on real issues which affect the islands, rather than allow a has-been politician to manipulate the board into ridiculous confrontations which are then splashed in the Free Press.

The gravy train will hit the buffers at some point, I only hope that the board wake up before the damage is irreversible

Anonymous said...

The gravy train is lead by the business plan. Who wrote all the community buy-out business plans? Try finding a duo of lady consultants, both Estate Directors, one formerly with HIE and one a Councillor, backed by their consultant chum in Elgin.

Golf Course on the machair, Wind Power, you name it is all the same. Cribbed, nae cut and paste from Machrahanish. Now all 9 years out of date but still getting rehashed.

How about reviewing these business plans? Renewables has moved on, RET is here and we have more tourism, recession has hit, grants are harder to find.

All the communities had these business plans hidden from them. How many people saw the feasability studies before they went to vote? Virtually none, as they were deemed commercially confidential.

Can you smell the stench?

Anonymous said...

Is it coincidental that they stopped publishing their board minutes on the website back in May?

Anonymous said...

Who pays the bills for the lawyers. Surely it is not a legitimate use of taxpayers money for Trust funding to be spent on legal fees. What have HIE, CNES and the other funders got to say about this expenditure?

Anonymous said...


The bill for the fight with the Askernish crofters is rumored to be about £50k, and it is still not settled.

Add on the debacle with Murdo MacKenzie, which I understand Storas are in the process of extracting themselves from, having achieved precisely nothing apart from bad PR.

Andrew MacKinnon and the beer tank squabble was eventually sorted with Storas admitting they were in the wrong, legal costs?

The Church of Scotland building in Iochdar, how much so far in legal costs?

Calum Macmillan; a great opportunity for Storas to welcome some initiative from an enterprising local, now turning into a costly fiasco for the island.

This is only the cost from the Storas side, what has it cost in terms of both money and distress for those at the receiving end of a legal action.

Legal costs incurred by Storas directly against the community it is supposed to be leading should be
disallowed, or at the very least scrutinised by the funders prior to being approved.

I wonder if the directors would be quite so quick to reach for the lawyers if it were not public money that they are squandering.

Anonymous said...

Legal action is the first refuge of the scoundrel, and the last resort for the reasonable.

Storas need to decide which they are. And the mere fact that I used the word 'THEY' in that sentence speaks volumes.

It is time for the board of Storas Uibhist to show what they are really made of.

Anonymous said...

----- Original Message -----
From: Calum Macmillan, Uist
Cc: Ian Fraser
Sent: Thursday, September 02, 2010 6:35 PM
Subject: Re: ANGUS MACMILLAN - MAC107/2

Dear Mr McKie

It is with shock that I received your email this afternoon (Thursday 2nd September).

As Angus MacMillan is fully aware, my father has been seriously ill with terminal cancer, particularly during the last fortnight and died on Sunday night. The funeral was held yesterday, Wednesday 1st September. Angus Mac Millan visited my parents' house on Monday night and kindly attended the funeral.

For Angus to instruct his lawyer to put pressure on me and my family, the day after the funeral, is unforgiveable and shows an appalling lack of taste and judgement, on his part and yours.

I hope that you will have the decency to forward an apology on behalf of your client and yourself.

I would be grateful to receive contact details for the client relations partner at Levy & McRae, so that a formal complaint can be registered, ahead of informing the Law Society of Scotland of your conduct.

Your orginal letter has been noted.


Calum Mac Millan

----- Original Message -----
Cc: David McKie
Sent: Thursday, September 02, 2010 3:49 PM

Levy and Mcrae

Dear Mr MacMillan,

We enclose our letter of 13th August 2010 and have not yet received a response. If your intention is not to provide a substantive response to the letter, perhaps you would let us know. If you require further time to respond, again please let us know. Our client has indicated that he has no intention of leaving the matter, but he is prepared to allow you the opportunity of responding. We have set out the five requirements of our client for your consideration and we look forward, therefore, to hearing from you by return.

Yours sincerely,


Anonymous said...

Words fail me.

Anonymous said...

Surely the time is now for another Angus to take up the mantle of chief executive. That man is just waiting on the call and lives in Boisdale. He has considerable experience at this level and would jump (get on with it) at the opportunity. Yes it is time for green Angus to fill the breech and show us what he is made of.

Anonymous said...


Well... green Angus certainly fills his breeches, it is the the ability to do a bit of jumping I'm not so sure about.

Anonymous said...

Could he hop from foot to foot as he explains the intricacies of running a large community based buy out. If not, Willie MacDonald of Askernish would be only too keen to fill the gap with his knowledge of Storas shenanigans over the Askernish golf course he would surely be a suitable candidate to steer the ship into calmer waters.