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Independent consultant appointed for Wikimedia governance review

Independent consultant appointed for Wikimedia governance review
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Independent consultant appointed for Wikimedia governance review1

Governance | Kirsty Weakley | 1 Nov 2012

Wikimedia UK and the Wikimedia Foundation have appointed Compass Partnership to conduct a review and report on the governance of Wikimedia UK.

Mike Hudson, and independent specialist consultant at Compass Partnership, will lead the review into recent accusations of conflicts of interest concerning QRpedia, Monmouthpedia, Gibraltarpedia. It will also look at the charity’s current governance arrangements and policies.

In a statement the organisations said the review is expected to be published by 31 January or “in any event” by 15 February 2013. While the review is being carried out Wikimedia UK is unable to process payments for the annual fundraiser – the international Wikimedia Foundation will do so for the UK instead, but this means that the charity will be unable to claim gift aid.

Hudson will conduct interviews with current and former trustees, staff, and some stakeholders.

Wikimedia UK and the Wikimedia Foundation announced that an independent review would be carried out on 28 September following the resignation of one of Wikimedia UK’s trustees (Roger Bamkin) “to avoid confusion” between his role as a paid Wikipedia consultant and as a trustee. The legal teams of both organisations made suggestions and drew up a shortlist of two potential parties to carry out the review, before choosing Compass Partnership.   
 

 

Steve Virgin
former Trustee
ex-Wikimedia UK Trustee
3 Jan 2013

As someone relevant to this story, a former Trustee of WMUK who stepped down last May, I feel the need to point out the review is in two stages not one. This is how the review was explained to me in an email:

Hi Steve

We are producing two documents as follows:

1. A review of the current governance of Wikimedia UK. This will range across the broad field of organisational governance and not be confined to one aspect (e.g. managing potential conflicts of interest). It will offer the Wikimedia UK board a number of recommendations for them to consider as they develop their organisational governance further. It is in line with the forms of general governance review encouraged by the Charity Commission.
2. A descriptive chronology of the management of specific potential conflicts of interest. We don’t plan that this second document will draw conclusions or make recommendations. The aim will not be to allocate blame for historical acts.

Our chronology on the other hand will primarily set out what we understand happened, rather than offer commentary.

sent to me on 27/12/12

To be able to be involved in this review I was informed that I would have to sign a Non-Disclosure Agreement on anything I was shown or told. I refused.

I am deeply concerned the review is little more than a smokescreen. Its aim is to focus attention exclusively on what took place in the UK, when the actions of the WMF parent chapter are equally relevant. Particularly with regard to the granting of rights to use the Wikipedia logo (twice - Monmouth and then again in Gibraltar) and whether any form of sensible due diligence was carried out by the USA parent chapter with regard to granting of these rights. If it had been carried out in detail for the Monmouth instance, it would have led to deep discussions about any potential conflict of interest between the UK chapter and the USA parent foundation taking place in April. These concerns would have stopped the issue dead in its tracks and Gibraltar COI would never have happened later in July (after I had left the Board in May).

These matters (as per the email I was recently sent) are now seemingly not relevant to this review.

Hence my smokescreen comment. If we are all to learn from good and bad practice the whole process needs to be examined - not just selective parts of it.


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