THE report by inspectors appointed by the Financial Services Authority into the affairs and governance procedures at Musselburgh & Fisherrow Co-op over the past ten years or so has provided a unique insight into how not to run a co-operative retail society.
Undeniably, this small East Lothian society is unrepresentative and wholly out of kilter with the rest of the Movement.
But the report's conclusions, albeit an interim judgement pending a decision on how the FSA itself decides to interpret and act on the findings, represents a massive wake-up call for the sector and fully justifies the actions of the Co-op activists who went to the courts last year when the full impact of years of member apathy and boardroom shenanigans became evident.
The jury of course is still out on whether key society figures deliberately manipulated rules relating to member records and communications for their own personal gain or advancement in preparation for the vote to demutualise last September.
However the inspectors' report identifies clear breaches of society and IPSA rules and it is up to the FSA to decide whether these amount to lapses and mistakes caused by ignorance and incompetence or something more sinister. In early November we said the Musselburgh saga would run and run. Four months later, that remains the case.
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