Expulsion of President-Elect

The crisis deepens…

Many of you will have seen the announcement by the BPS telling you of the expulsion of the President-Elect, Dr Nigel MacLennan. This is an extremely serious matter. We have some reason to believe that the process by which this decision has been reached may be flawed. It is clearly highly damaging to him personally to have allegations about his behaviour made in public in advance of any appeal he might make. The question must also be asked about what efforts have been made to go to external mediation to attempt a resolution. Surely the Charity Commission would have been able to advise on this?

The Society is now in a situation where there are no senior elected members in any position of authority. The President and Vice President have resigned and the President-Elect removed. The CEO is “not in the office”, the CFO resigned late last year and there is no replacement listed on the BPS website – all the most senior positions in the Society are vacant. The Charity Commission is “engaged” with the BPS following a large number of complaints by members about serious concerns about governance and the behaviour of members of the Senior Management Team towards members.

Those of us who started this blog have had a long relationship with the BPS over the years as well as making significant contributions as elected officers. It is no exaggeration to say that we are thoroughly ashamed of the BPS at present. It is certainly not the organisation to which we once gave our time and energy. This is now the time for the membership to stand up and be counted. Members currently have no elected – and hence accountable – representation at senior level. The only people making decisions that affect your society, your discipline, your profession are unelected, unaccountable employees, the majority of whom have no background in psychology. 

Our organisation is in serious, perhaps terminal, decline. Will you join with us in trying to rescue it?

Peter Harvey

Blog Administrator

3 thoughts on “The crisis deepens…”

  1. The BPS is unfit for purpose

    I am Professor David Marks, membership number 3829, a Chartered Member with FBPsS, currently a member of the Division of Health Psychology, previously a member of other groups and networks. I joined the BPS as a student in 1963. After completing a BSc and PhD I worked in universities in the UK and overseas carrying out teaching administration and research. I have practiced as a psychologist and worked as a consultant to multiple organisations within the NHS, industry and voluntary sectors. I served as Head of Department at two large Psychology Departments, firstly at Middlesex University, where I worked from 1986 to 2000, and then at City, University of London from 2000 to 2010. I founded two scholarly journals and, for 26 years, have served as Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Health Psychology.

    Based on my research publications, I was appointed to a BPS Fellowship in 1984. In the early 1990s, I was elected chair of the BPS Health Psychology Section, which was taken into Special Group status and subsequently to a Division. I was actively involved in the BPS accreditation of the first MSc awards in health psychology and the first Stage 2/doctoral training provision in the UK. I sat on various BPS boards and represented the BPS on international bodies. Over many years multiple elected and unelected BPS officers were well known to me and I counted many as personal friends.

    It with sadness and regret that I believe that I must state my concerns about the Society, its organization, working practices and public outputs.

    I am writing this comment in support of the recent blog postings on ‘BPSWatch’. I do not know and have never met any of the three authors. However I have read their postings and find myself in total agreement with the points they have been making. Rather than resign from the Society, which has crossed my mind on numerous occasions, I had always hoped that change could come from within. Now, seeing the total chaos that reigns, and the complete lack of transparency, accountability and honesty with members, I am strongly doubtful.

    I can summarise my current thoughts on the BPS in four sentences:

    1) The BPS is grossly failing the public good, its members, and the discipline of Psychology.
    2) The current problems of the BPS cannot and will not be solved by tinkering with the system, as has been tried unsuccessfully on a frequent basis over several decades.
    3) Only root-and-branch restructuring would be able to make the necessary changes to achieve the objects of its charter.
    4) Sadly, I do not believe the BPS has the wherewithal to achieve the necessary structural reorganization that is called for.

    The BPS website (https://www.bps.org.uk/about-us/who-we-are) states:
    “The British Psychological Society is a registered charity responsible for the development, promotion and application of psychology for the public good.
    Through our Royal Charter we are charged with overseeing psychology and psychologists in the UK, and we are governed by a number of democratically-elected boards and committees.”

    My nearly 60-year long association with the BPS indicates to me that the BPS is woefully unfit for purpose. The BPS fails to meet its obligations as a registered charity. This fact is evidenced by the Society’s:

    Ineffective governance
    Lack of accountability
    Lack of transparency
    Institutional racism
    Improper complaints procedures
    Willful neglect of fraud and/or malpractice

    In due course, unless I resign first, I will address each point on this and/or my own blog site at: https://davidfmarks.com/

    David F Marks
    5 May 2021


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