Dear fellow fans,
Following an unsubstantiated and slanderous attack on my character, integrity and resolve by one of the other members of the SIPP group tasked to liaise with the management of Walsall FC earlier this year, it is my unpleasant but necessary duty to defend myself on an open forum.
As you are aware, a group of fans that took part in the protest against Oxford last season got together and approached the Walsall FC management to discuss how supporters felt about the on-going issues at the club and steps that could be taken towards improvement.
These meetings were a rare opportunity for fans to air their views directly with Mr Bonser and other members of the management team.
On Saturday 3rd November 2018, Mr Beckett, one of the group and my accuser, furnished me with a shared PM that called into question elements of my character and my integrity during the course of those meetings. Apparently, he has been keen to disseminate these allegations to other fans, as I received word from a third party. The main points I will cover below.
During these meetings, my approach was to listen with care and speak how I felt, in the knowledge that my voice represented so many disgruntled and curious fans that couldn’t be there at the time. I was completely genuine and honest at all times. I put forward questions responsibly and with careful consideration. I didn’t allow my personal feelings or excessive emotion to get in the way of constructive dialogue. In discussions within the group I was respectful of differing opinions and sought consensus over contested positions. My approached is totally vindicated in the e-mails within the group, those with the club and within the Facebook group we created.
Yet now, many months later, my accuser has disgorged a raft of unsubstantiated accusations against me.
The main issue appears to be that I constantly and belligerently challenged him on various issues. While there were times that we disagreed, this was always done by both of us in a respectful and collaborative manner. I did not constantly challenge Mr Beckett as he asserts. I did challenge him on some occasions when our opinions differed. That is my right. I did so from my own standpoint, and when I felt progress would have been hindered or when he made libellous allegations against a former manager. Has anyone the right to go through such a process without their views being challenged? I would say not.
He states that I bullied, coerced and manipulated my colleagues to try and keep our information secret, to extending timeframes with no reason and to continually derailing the momentum. Not only do I unreservedly reject this, I would invite you to ask the other neutral members of the group, Ian Astbury, Kev Paddock and Dean Neville if they felt they had been subject to this at any time.
One absurd allegation is that I didn’t take the meetings seriously as if a lift to meetings wasn’t offered, I couldn’t bothered to attend. This is false. I attended both of the meetings with management and attended the fan meetings. I did receive lifts from four different people, sometimes walking into town to be collected. I walked across town to the Bentley fan meeting and walked to locations of group meetings on more than one occasion. My disposition at every meeting was serious and dedicated as any witness would attest.
Mr Beckett and I have exchanged frank and forthright views following his allegations. Apparently, we didn’t like each other, something that was news to me. I respect Mr Beckett’s passion for the club and his willingness to instigate positive change. However, I cannot and will not be subject to a creeping series of slanderous allegations casually disseminated to mutual friends, or to supporters who I represented during the meetings.
For me, the issue is now closed unless further insinuations emerge, then I will respond as I see fit, including releasing the contents of the group messages in their entirety in order to vindicate my position, or pursuing legal recourse.
Best wishes to all.