On 8th February 2014 we became aware of a blog post which was written by an ex-employee who was employed as a gallery assistant at a gallery for which I directed.
The post made several assertions about me and my character which seemed to be based on a short meeting and a publicity photograph of me. The article contains several errors and falsehoods that sensationalises the issue.
The purpose of this post is to clearly deliver the facts, so that the issue is transparent to those that wish to understand it.
Unfortunately due to matters that were totally beyond our control the member of staff in question, very sadly, left our employment with one month’s part time wage outstanding. We attempted to resolve the matter with the employee directly, but she decided to seek the help of the courts to recover what she felt was due. Because of the differences of opinion in the case, although stressful and upsetting for all involved I believe that this was the right and proper place to have the discussion. Due to restrictions I am unable to go into specific detail on the claim or process.
Whilst a genuine dispute of the amount existed, we worked properly with the courts, complying with their requests and made a full offer of repayment to the ex-employee on two separate occasions. It is important to understand that once the court is involved, contact has to take place through official channels. This means that offers of payment need to be made via application to the relevant court, which is the route we took to resolve the matter.
The employee rejected the offer of repayment on two separate occasions but instead chose to engage in a course of public harassment which has included the disruption of my art shows, and the posting of inaccurate online content with the obvious intention of causing a negative effect to myself, projects and endeavours. I am very aware that the potential repercussions of these actions are very real for me and all those I work with. They are however disproportionate and wrong.
I understand that the ex-employee must be incredibly frustrated and disappointed having being in the court system for a year, not to have got the results she hoped for and expected. I am genuinely sorry for what that must have felt like, and for any stress or anxiety she must have been through. However I cannot accept responsibility for matters beyond my control, which were not my fault or which were the decisions of the court.
I deeply regret that the gallery ended the way it did – Aubin & Wills ceased trading when Jack Wills no longer wished to continue the brand which is ultimately why the gallery closed. By the most part it was a place of incredible creativity and potential. I am extremely proud of the exhibitions that happened there, and I am grateful to have had the opportunity to meet and work with some of the fantastic artists that passed through.
The day to day running of the gallery however was never my responsibility. Since inception there was always a gallery manager in place who fulfilled that function which included processing staff payroll.
I wish to address specific content I have seen online to help give a bit of clarity:
The employee in question was not owed two months wages.
I did not own the gallery. The gallery was owed by Aubin & Wills, a clothing company who were a sister company of Jack Wills.
Aubin & Wills ceased trading when Jack Wills no longer wished to continue the brand which is ultimately why the gallery closed. This was extremely unfortunate, but totally beyond my control
Although the processing of payroll was the responsibility of the gallery manager, I was unaware that this function had not been fulfilled and I am extremely sorry for this.
The reason the ex employees communication in the matter was missed was due to a relocation from London to Dorset. We did not issue a false address, and as soon as communication was received we dealt with it through the court as directed.
I apologise that I would only appear at the gallery ‘sporadically’, but the gallery was only one part of the different projects I was involved with
I am upset that the ex-employee has had such a negative experience of working with us. It has been unfortunate for all involved. I can honestly say we did our best to resolve the issue.
I am absolutely passionate about encouraging young people to follow their creative dreams. I stand by the article I wrote for the guardian and will continue to help those who I work with.