The random thoughts of a sceptical activist.
I’ve been looking at the BCA and posted about them on The Lay Scientist, but repeat the posts here.
One thing is certain: regardless of why the BCA didn’t pursue the Guardian, the damage has been done in that people have read the paper and the online article and will have been left with an impression of what Simon said. If they finally win, they get no more than the satisfaction that they have won and that their lawyers have made a packet or too.
If they had pursued the Guardian as well, then it would seem likely that they would have to have published an apology of some sort. They way they have done it – just going after an individual — they get no such public apology and the ‘harm’ that was done to them never gets corrected as far as most of the original readers are concerned.
Does this make sense? Have the BCA complained to the PCC? If not, why not?
If you were in charge of the reputation of such a membership organisation, would you not owe it to your members to do everything you could to get a public apology? Perhaps the damage done was just not that great after all?
Or was the Guardian just too big for them to take on?The BCA has 1,029 members (including 6 abroad). (The GCC have 3,110, so the BCA don’t represent half the GCC members as was claimed yesterday.) I can’t find their fees mentioned on their website, but let’s take a guess at £100 per annum, although this does seem very high – perhaps £50 is nearer the mark. Anyway, this gives them an annual income from fees of £100,000. It doesn’t look likely that they have any other significant source of income (a check on their Companies House records would confirm this – I’ve just bought them, so I’ll look through them and let you know). They were awarded costs of £23,000 (plus VAT) yesterday, which is what their lawyers would have charged them. I they had taken on the Guardian as well, this could have been significantly more! Could they really have afforded to risk half their annual income on this?
OK. Their income from subscriptions in 2007 (FY to 31 December) was £1.65 million. Their membership certainly seems to be 1,029, making their average subscription £1,600. Does this seem right? Even providing ‘professional insurance’ and whatever else they provide, this seems steep, particularly bearing in mind every quack still has to register with the GCC. Can anyone compare that with other similar (!) organisations?
Their total income in 2007 was just under £1.9 million (so the vast majority comes from subscriptions), their expenditure just over £1.7 million, giving a surplus for the year of £112,000. They had £695,360 in the bank.
Some other figures:
They have 9 employees, earning an mean salary of £17,000.
They forked out £745,992 for ‘Professional insurance’.
They paid £105,000 for ‘Public relations expenses’.
£78,437 for ‘honoraria’. To whom is not specified.
They paid out £10,924 in unspecified ‘donations’.
£150,000 for membership of other organisations.£7,189 for ‘X-rays’! (Perhaps they x-ray their staff every year to ensure they are all healthy?)
£50,000 on ‘Research’. (Not much really, but they spent zilch the previous year.)
£19,826 on ‘Legal and professional’.
So, their lawyer’s bill, if Simon hadn’t had to pay it would have more than doubled their legal bill, but, considering their total reserves of just short of £1 million, they are well placed to fight several Simon Singhs!
They still haven’t filed their 2008 accounts (to 31 December), so we don’t know if anything has changed significantly since 2007.
First posted: 08 May 2009
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