NICK HOWELL of ABINTUS Ltd in Stroud
Many people would say that it is better to "sweep bad news under the carpet."
We at jole rider do not believe in such a policy.
Instead, we have a philosophy of "sweeping bad news out with a new broom."
It is with this philosophy in mind that we have chosen to publish the following statements.
What people choose to make of the contents and the decisions they come to is entirely up to them.
For us, we believe in honesty and openness and by these rules we live.
Nick Howell's involvement with, and his attacks on, the charity JOLE RIDER
For more than 12months now, Nick Howell, a sole trader marketing himself as Abintus in Stroud - to deliver business personnel coaching -
has sought to deliver a destabilising influence on the charity JOLE RIDER and its work.
Due to Nick Howell’s continuing and seemingly never to end strategy to inflict permanent harm on the charity, evidenced by his most recent attack,
JOLE RIDER has decided to make public the story of Nick Howell and the effect this person has had on this organisation.
That effect has been wide ranging, extending to the charity’s Directors, the charity’s reputation generally and its external relations specifically.
The financial impact is incalculable but runs into tens of thousands of pounds, with a negative impact on the work the charity is striving to achieve.
Most importantly, the damage he has caused intentionally has extended to the very work the charity delivers through its programmes in education.
In particular, it has affected people in the UK that draw benefit from its operations and young children in Africa who have done simply nothing to
deserve disruption - at best - and failure of Bikes4Africa at worst.
1. Nick Howell’s Damaging Strategy
2. His Engagement: Aug 2015
3. Nick Howell Wrote to our Partners, and
4. To our Team Members
5. Gloucester County Court
6. Charity Commission
7. Nick Howell’s recent Facebook posting
8. Advertising Standards Authority
1. NICK HOWELL’S DAMAGING STRATEGY
Since Nick Howell was released from his service contract with JOLE RIDER his strategy to inflict harm on the organisation has included intentionally communicating incorrect, out of date or misleading information to a variety of recipients. These, to our knowledge at least, include:
• JOLE RIDER’s partners and Team members – current and past
• the media
• the Charity Commission, and
• the Advertising Standards Authority
10months after termination of his contract with JOLE RIDER, Nick Howell posted defamatory comments about the charity on the charity’s own facebook page under Reviews [see below].
His strategy as evidenced again by this latest attack has been aimed at JOLE RIDER and its work with apparently the sole intention of hindering if not severely disrupting its work and related operations. Anyone conducting a strategy of this kind will know the potential effect such a strategy can have but Nick Howell has pursued his endeavours regardless. At worst his intention has been to completely sabotage the charity in order to bring about its failure.
The amount of time expended by the Directors in dealing with the fallout caused by Nick Howell is incalculable. With the Directors having no choice but to embark on a damage limitation exercise, time and opportunity has been permanently lost. The Directors are now hopeful that eventually something good will emerge from the detritus this person has caused and continues to cause.
2. ENGAGEMENT: AUGUST 2015
Nick Howell was engaged by JOLE RIDER to assist the charity in its development in roles believed to be well within his professional capability. They included training, training course design, recruitment and developing a productive and cohesive employee culture for a new expanded team. These various elements were being designed to expand JOLE RIDER’s reach and capability overall in pursuit of its wider goals.
Nick Howell, who had previously volunteered with the charity, was unemployed at the time of engagement resulting from his release by UCAS in Cheltenham.
Following lengthy discussions about the intended role for Nick Howell, he was given the following specific assignment.
The assignment focused upon 3 main objectives, namely
1. the development of a new bike skills training facility
The facility is integral to JOLE RIDER’s expanded activities, the support of JOLE RIDER’s work in Africa and fundraising.
2. the search and recruitment of 3 new full-time personnel
The positions to be filled included a bike skills trainer, a marketing assistant and an events coordinator – all intended to impact strongly on the generation of funds for the charity.
3. the bedding-in of the new staff within a jointly shared culture
With such an expansion of the full-time team, from 2 to 5, almost in one leap, there was a need to properly orchestrate the absorption of the new talent into an agreed culture.
The assignment was extremely limited in success and in one area only. The training facility was created and came on-line as planned but there was a complete failure as regards the new personnel. JOLE RIDER released Nick Howell from his service contract in order to consider in depth the effect of his involvement.
Nick Howell was a key link with the three new personnel and was given the lead in ensuring they bedded down into a new cohesive team following an open team discussion, led by him, about a jointly agreed culture.
It would not be right here to explain the background to the three new Team Members leaving as they did. However, due to his key role, Nick Howell carried a high degree of responsibility for the failure and the manner of that failure.
Shortly following Nick Howell’s release, and during the exercise of damage assessment, the Directors discovered a pattern of behaviour by Nick Howell which was unprofessional and inappropriate. The Directors requested a meeting with Nick Howell to discuss their concerns about his behaviour. On several occasions Nick Howell refused to meet and answered only by threatening to initiate formal proceedings to gain payment of his most recent outstanding fees.
JOLE RIDER did not correspond with him again.
Due to the nature of the assignment and the way in which it was conducted, JOLE RIDER could not defend a case for non-payment without a considerable amount of work, time and expense being incurred. The Directors reluctantly decided to allow such proceedings to be initiated simply in order to delay settlement to someone who, in effect, had caused unquantifiable and significant damage to the charity’s development plans and financial capability.
What followed, directly after his invoices were paid, we do not understand his reasons for. In fact, Nick Howell’s strategy against the charity cannot be explained at any level. There is simply nothing whatsoever which might explain the reason for Nick Howell’s actions.
It is important to note, that in the whole time that Nick Howell worked for and was paid by JOLE RIDER there was not one single word of constructive comment, criticism or doubt expressed towards the Directors or the charity’s work at any point. There was no expression by him of concern for how the organisation was managed, its culture both internal and external, or how affairs were conducted specifically or generally. It was only after Nick Howell was released, and was paid in full, that Nick Howell decided he had a message to share with others and in such style as to cause irreparable damage.
During the year 2016 Nick Howell of Abintus in Stroud has carried out a variety of acts aimed at damaging JOLE RIDER’s reputation and ability to operate.
3. NICK HOWELL WROTE TO OUR PARTNERS
Without warning or threat, Nick Howell chose to write a carefully worded letter to each of the charity’s partners with the apparent sole intention to cause disruption and permanent harm.
The effect of this alone could have been catastrophic if it wasn’t for the regard our principle partners hold for JOLE RIDER and its Directors. One significant partner replied by saying, they had conducted their own independent due diligence exercise on JOLE RIDER and were happy to continue their support, wishing us well in the process. Meetings with a number of these partners took place with success in every case.
That is, except one.
Our partner Hills Waste of Wiltshire, with whom JOLE RIDER has had a relationship for many years, invited the Directors to meet them to discuss Nick Howell’s letter, sent to them through their “Whistle Blowing” channel.
Hills Waste were a mainstay in the supply of bikes discarded at their Household Recycling sites across Wiltshire.
The success with other partner meetings wasn’t repeated with Hills and for reasons the Directors were astonished to discover. This statement is however about Nick Howell and not about Hills Waste. The Hills Waste story though is in itself as interesting as it is utterly disappointing. What became clear to the Directors however was that Hills had already determined their course of action before the meeting took place.
Hills Waste decided to end the relationship with JOLE RIDER.
The effect of this on the charity and its beneficiaries, again, is incalculable.
In contrast, Wiltshire Council being the client of Hills Waste have underlined their continued support for JOLE RIDER in the light of all that has come to pass. Accordingly, JOLE RIDER look forward to working with Wiltshire Council again when the opportunity presents.
Our equally long-term partnership HMP Cardiff also became a casualty as a result of Nick Howell.
Regretfully, HMP Cardiff did not respond to JOLE RIDER’s suggestion of a meeting to discuss Nick Howell’s letter.
HMP Cardiff, thus by default, decided to end the relationship.
The effect of this on the charity and its beneficiaries, again, is material.
With new prisons joining with JOLE RIDER in the New Year, with knowledge of this recent history, the effect of losing HMP Cardiff is seen as less damaging than first thought although immensely disappointing.
4. NICK HOWELL WROTE TO OUR TEAM MEMBERS
Directly after being paid in full by JOLE RIDER, Nick Howell wrote an email to a number of Team members, past and present expressing his personal opinion on a whole range of subjects. The email was addressed to the Directors and was blind copied to an unknown number of other recipients.
Nick Howell could not have been more damning in his note with respect to the criticism he levelled at the Directors. In the view of the Directors, Nick Howell could not have reached further from reality in his documented personal assessment and his email was farcical in the extreme. Of far more concern however, was the potential effect Nick Howell was attempting to deliver by writing to all those Team members, and perhaps other persons also, who he had an email address for.
5. GLOUCESTER COUNTY COURT
Nick Howell wrote on the JOLE RIDER facebook page:
Jole Rider has also been ruled against twice by the small claims court this year for failing to pay employees.
There are two points about Nick Howell’s assertion requiring clarification.
1. Payments to employees were not involved. The two persons Nick Howell refers to were both paid part-time contractors for the charity and both released for an inadequate level of service. He being one.
2. JOLE RIDER has had in fact 3 separate involvements with the Court this year.
CASE1: JOLE RIDER won the case against an organisation which had disposed of assets belonging to JOLE RIDER.
CASE2: This case was filed by Nick Howell shortly after his repeated refusal to meet with the Directors to discuss and explain his actions and non-actions relative to his conduct. The Directors had informed Nick Howell that payment would be withheld until they had answers to their questions. Due to the complex issues surrounding this case the Directors never intended to file a defence due to the time and expense this would have taken to prepare. Instead the Directors decided to withhold payment for as long as possible. Due to an administrative oversight, payment was not made before it went to judgement.
CASE3: JOLE RIDER won this case, with the court determining that the defendant pay in full for the stock taken. At dispute was the value of stock taken by an ex-contractor [AK] without paying for it and failing to settle for it.
6. CHARITY COMMISSION
Nick Howell wrote on the JOLE RIDER facebook page:
The Charity Commission have also been investigating the charity.
The Charity Commission are NOT investigating the charity since the Directors would know if it were. We feel sure Nick Howell will have complained to the Commission about something, but nothing has come to the Directors’ attention from the Commission and nothing is expected to.
It is important to note, that JOLE RIDER’s most recent Annual Trustees’ Report, as filed with the Charity Commission, describes the charity’s position at a point in time plus the Trustees’ expectations for the future. The next Annual Trustees’ Report will be filed in January 2017 relative to the year to 31 March 2016.
Readers are also directed to www.jolerider.org to read the Directors’ Resume for 2016, which will be published in January.
That said, the Directors are in discussion with the Commission about changes JOLE RIDER wishes to make to both its constitution and objects clause, pending reorganisation and a split of the charity’s operations to better address future opportunities. These changes are expected to be made early in the New Year and following expansion of the Board of Trustees.
Neither of these topics have anything to do with any comments which Nick Howell may have made to the Commission directly.
7. NICK HOWELL’S RECENT FACEBOOK POSTING
·December 14, 2016,
wrote on JOLE RIDER’ Facebook page under the title REVIEWS:
So today Jole Rider has been ruled against by the Advertising Standards Authority (look on the ASA website), about misleading website advertising and not being able to substantiate their claims about shipping bikes to Africa (none since 2014) and about their being a bike skills academy in The Gambia (they closed The Gambia operation in January 2016). The Charity Commission have also been investigating the charity. Jole Rider has also been ruled against twice by the small claims court this year for failing to pay employees. Some organisations have also stopped donating bikes to Jole Rider because of their misrepresenting the charities recent activities. Donators of bikes or money beware!
8. ADVERTISING STANDARDS AUTHORITY
Nick Howell wrote on the JOLE RIDER facebook page:
So today Jole Rider has been ruled against by the Advertising Standards Authority (look on the ASA website), about misleading website advertising and not being able to substantiate their claims about shipping bikes to Africa (none since 2014) and about their being a bike skills academy in The Gambia (they closed The Gambia operation in January 2016).
In the 10year history of JOLE RIDER, the Directors cannot recall a complaint of any kind having been communicated to the Charity. Nick Howell however filed that first complaint and did so with the Advertising Standards Authority [ASA].
The ASA policy is to act on all complaints even single complaints irrespective of whether or not they originate from aggrieved ex-contractors with distorted facts and knowledge.
Again, there are three points about this assertion by Nick Howell which need to be clarified.
1. Nick Howell purposefully misled readers by saying what he did. JOLE RIDER did NOT close operations in The Gambia. JOLE RIDER in fact ceased to support operations in the country due to its unresolved concerns regarding management at the local end. The workshop and training facility established at its base was left to function, fully equipped, as originally intended in the hands of the trained workshop engineers.
2. Nick Howell further suggested that since the last shipment delivered to The Gambia was in 2014, the charity has been dormant. This couldn’t be further from the truth and Nick Howell was well aware of this. Nick Howell was similarly very aware of the work the Directors were conducting to re-establish shipments to the single destination as well as establishing new destinations.
3. In reality, many hundreds of bikes have been sent to Africa since 2014, albeit not under the name or at the expense of JOLE RIDER. That said, JOLE RIDER has collected them and handled them at its own expense as part of a holding strategy. The consequence of this is that many hundreds of Africans have benefited from having a bicycle that otherwise would have gone without.
The Directors found it difficult to understand precisely what the ASA were asking JOLE RIDER to substantiate despite several communications on the subject. Due to the mixed messages received, the Directors determined that it was better to concentrate on its mainstream work at the time rather than try and decipher what the true issue was.
The Directors agreed with the ASA that certain minor messaging could be improved. However, the Directors did not agree that there is inaccuracy in messaging which could lead to persons being misguided at their financial cost. The Directors regarded the complaint as insufficiently material and stated to the ASA that the charity regarded itself as sufficiently robust in its work and operations to withstand a criticism of the type levelled through the ASA. The Directors accordingly refused to be drawn by the ASA into what they saw as a process of jumping through hoops just to satisfy the manufactured complaint by an ex-paid contractor with a grudge.
The Directors stated to the ASA that the JOLE RIDER website messaging was due for review in order to update or improve messaging. This was planned for as a result of appointing a new webmaster. Thus, any adjustments thought required by the Directors, taking account of all representations, would be made at that time. At one point the ASA appeared to accept this position knowing that the charity was expecting to appoint a new webmaster in the coming weeks. Despite this, the ASA later appeared to reverse their position and threatened to publish a judgement, as in fact they did.
Dealing with the ASA has been a whole new experience for the Directors. In reading many of the cases put before them by complainants and the related judgements, the Directors found it difficult to take too seriously the position taken up by the ASA in many of the cases looked at.
One such case recently judged upon by the ASA involves Heinz and their banned TV advert. People might well have mixed views about this but the Directors could not see the problem.
It is only the opinion of the Directors, but they cannot help take the view that the ASA should take a deep inward look at themselves and their operations policy. JOLE RIDER, a small charity doing some truly great work for people in this world, has fallen foul of the ASA’s heavy hand - and to what effect and for what real purpose we ask?
That said, the Directors would not have dealt with the ASA differently and they stand by their decisions, despite the ruling being made public.
The Directors have informed the ASA that it will lodge a complaint of its own in the New Year about their treatment of the charity.