Today the Blake Society and the Blake Cottage Trust have announced that tomorrow they will host a meeting with the chosen architects to carry out their plans for Blake’s Cottage. Mr Stuart Cade and James Roach, from Rick Mather Architects, will be talking with the public.
I have informed them about the problems surrounding the Cottage, in case they didn’t know, including the fact that the demolition of the annexe and the building of a visitor centre on the Cottage’s grounds were never part of the project and that there is strong opposition to these plans.
The matter is explained in detail in my testimony in this webpage, particularly chapters IV and XVIII.
We hope that Mr Cade and Mr Roach will have the sensibility to understand what is at stake in this project, and be wary about the unscrupulous organisation they are engaging with.
A couple of days ago we’ve had another reason for concern: the Blake Society is announcing a grand event next 25 September to raise funds to mark Blake’s grave in Bunhill Fields: a Wake for Blake.
It is distressing to see that the BS is still using and abusing the trust and the good name of other people, eliciting their support, and their money, when they still have not become accountable to donors and the public about the fraudulent practice through which they allowed Mr Heath, their Chair, to acquire Blake’s Cottage for himself and create his own little private Trust.
That they are trying to get more money from the public while the Blake Society’s and Blake Cottage Trust’s muddled financial reports, that bear little respect for truth, are still being investigated by the relevant authorities (the Charity Commission, on two occasions with a reminder from Action Fraud) is very worrying indeed.
To add to our concerns, news about this event was sent to the Blake Society’s members and friends by Mr Nick Duncan, signing as Trustee.
Mr Duncan was a Trustee when I was also in the Blake Society Committee, if I remember well before I became its Secretary. He left and I didn’t hear back from him until 2016, in unusual circumstances.
At the Society’s AGM in 2016, he wasn’t nominated as a Trustee. Indeed, the Society’s own minutes to the AGM make it clear that he was not elected: https://blakecottage.files.wordpress.com/2016/06/comments-to-minutes-blake-society-agm-2016.pdf
However, on May 2016 we exchanged correspondence. He said he was “sad” that I was making public the corruption around the Cottage and informed me that he was again a Trustee: that he had just been co-opted.
He offered to raise my concerns with the Blake Society Committee then get back to me, but he simply disappeared instead, as is by now customary in this sad affair. This is mentioned in more detail in Chapter XVI in my testimony: https://blakecottage.files.wordpress.com/2017/01/chapter-xvii-my-testimony-blake-cottage1.pdf
Soon after that I found out that just one month earlier Mr Duncan had been the “independent examiner” of the Blake Society.’s finances As I have previously stated in this webpage, the BS’ financial report is inaccurate, lacks transparency and regard to truth, a situation echoed by the Blake Cottage Trust’s financial report.
I made the matter public in this webpage, saying that a Trustee of a Charity cannot be at the same time the supposedly independent examiner of their finances, and I contacted the Charity Commission.
I also asked why the Blake Society lied in their webpage for over a year stating that Dr Duncan had been elected as a Trustee at the AGM in 2016, when that was certainly not the case, as both their minutes and his own correspondence with me prove.
Because the Charity Commission was investigating and I had raised my concerns, Mr Duncan stepped down as a Trustee on January 2017. He was not nominated or elected in any way, and at that AGM the Blake Society made a farcical show of how they were now working with really independent examiners. When I tried to ask the Trustees why a fellow Trustee had stood in as financial examiner, and why they had been lying in their webpage for a whole year about who had been elected, I was bullied and shouted down, so I could never even finish a sentence. This has been related in my report on the AGM 2017 in this blog: https://blakecottage.com/2017/01/22/a-time-of-bullies/
Soon after the AGM the Blake Society published their minutes. They were, again, riddled with lies. I said so in this blog and they quietly made them disappear, and as of today, 2 June 2017, they haven’t published them again. It would be interesting to see what they say in regards of the elected Trustees.
As of today, Mr Duncan is nowhere to be seen in their own webpage:
In short: the Blake Cottage Trust and Blake Society have been lying in their financial reports regarding Blake’s Cottage; the Blake Society’s lack of transparency involves having one of its own Trustees, Mr. Nick Duncan, as an “Independent examiner”.
Because the Charity Commission was investigating this issue, I had made it public and they knew I would attend the 2017 AGM, they secreted Mr Duncan away at the AGM, then very quietly scurried him back afterwards, by co-opting him again, I suppose.
This means not only that there is nothing independent or transparent about the Blake Society’s handling of finances regarding Blake’s Cottage, but that they are intent on making a mockery of their duty to be publicly accountable and deal seriously with concerns raised about them. As stated earlier in this blog, theirs and the BCT’s messy finances haven’t been put right, and none of either organisations has become accountable to the public with a truthful report regarding the money raised.
And still, the Blake Society, with Mr Duncan himself as spokesperson, are now calling for more money for another project and for famous people to lend them a veneer of respectability.
The Grave Project itself has been far from an edifying matter in the history of the Blake Society and members surely remember how long it has taken to materialize. The first funds were actually raised several years ago by a then fellow Trustee, Simeon Gallu, and myself, after which the project was again abandoned, to the exasperation of the Treasurer Mr Luis Garrido and his wife Carol Garrido, then also a Trustee, who carried out the investigation to locate the exact place where Blake is buried in Bunhill Fields.
Mr Garrido knows fully well that everything that happened with Blake’s Cottage is unethical and frankly disgraceful. He has told me so himself several times. He put up with much indignity though, because after the Cottage appeal he was promised that now the Society would finally raise funds for his project of marking the grave. Several chapters in my testimony show evidence of the degree to which Mr Garrido is aware of the lack of scruples and integrity rife in the Blake Society and the Blake Cottage project, and how he has borne it all for the sake of a grave.
The indignities include joining in the slandering of me that the Blake Society has been incurring in, with a worrying degree of sexism involved.
Beautiful as the project of marking the actual place where Blake is buried once was, it cannot hold any beauty now that funds for it are being raised by the same unscrupulous people who stole a project and the money given by over 700 generous donors in order to give Blake’s Cottage to Mr Tim Heath and his illegitimate Trust. They are using the same cunning methods. In this context, their upcoming gala means nothing but spitting on Blake’s grave.