Harry Levy, president of the Gemmological Association of Great Britain (Gem-A), says he is unhappy the way the organisation’s Council of Trustees handled questions of alleged financial impropriety by the organisation’s CEO James Riley.
In an exclusive interview with Professional Jeweller, Mr Levy (pictured above) explained that there are questions to be answered by Mr Riley, but that any investigation into his behaviour should have been conducted in private.
By publicly suspending him as CEO, trustees gave the impression that Mr Riley was guilty before any of the facts were properly established.
The behaviour of Mr Riley, including any alleged financial impropriety, was not deemed to be a matter for the police, according to Mr Levy.
Mr Levy says Mr Riley has been respected throughout his tenure as CEO and is popular with employees and members. His public suspension angered many of them, leading to an attempt to force Gem-A to hold an EGM at which their questions could be answered. “James has a lot of support,” Mr Levy said.
“The problem now is that there is no trust between the Members and the Trustees,” he added. “Everybody is pointing fingers at everybody else.”
To start the healing process at the next AGM, it has been suggested that current trustees could resign, as some have threatened to do, and then stand for re-election. That election would be voted on by members, and other members could also stand against current trustees.
Mr Levy supports the idea, but suggests that this is unlikely to happen because the trustees believe they can resolve the matter themselves and then put it behind them.
It is unclear whether the resignation of Gem-A chairman Jason Williams in May was related to the questions surrounding Mr Riley. It is certain that the resignation yesterday of Steve Collins from the board was prompted by the crisis.