The part Rev John Simmons (County Commissioner) played
After John Askew stepped down, The Rev John Simmons took over as CC. This was whilst I was trying to get answers from Scout HQ. In desperation I did make contact with the Rev Simmons seeking help.
The letter dated 16 January 2005 from David Shelmerdine excluded me from Scouting and John Simmons wrote to me on 17th January confirming my exclusion and advising a number of other people of the situation.
In addition, around that time, John Simmons wrote to “colleagues” and in part the message reads “The three district commissioners directly affected are currently active in implementing this directive from HQ but I wanted to ensure that, without revealing the details, all our District Commissioners are aware of this development and ask that you monitor the situation within your district. This is a child protection issue”.
Quote “without revealing the details.........this is a child protection issue”
I appealed against the exclusion and was successful. With that result I immediately joined Fellowship in Northampton and was invited to assist with Explorer Scouts in the former Castle Ashby District.
Despite him writing to his “colleagues” telling them I was excluded, he did not write later to say my appeal was successful.
Rev Simmons first letter to me after my exclusion in 2005 dated 12th April 2005, the tone of which made me suspicious of his intentions and in part, it read “Perhaps you would be kind enough to let me know if you have a desire to return to membership of Scouting through the Northamptonshire route or whatever. Once I have a clear indication from you then I shall consider the most appropriate way to deal with your situation. If you decide to re-establish your membership within Northamptonshire then I will arrange to meet with you to discuss this”.
I had already re-joined Scouting and was also helping the Castle Ashby Explorers as an adult helper. In addition I was asked to co-ordinate the Centenary celebrations by staging a display in the town’s central museum and opening a small Scout museum above the local Scout Shop. In my letter dated 12 May 2005 to John Simmons I told him of my activities in Scouting and asked: “should you have any objections to my taking on these roles for the benefit of Scouting, I would be obliged if you would let me be the first to know.” My letter was acknowledged by the Rev Simmons:
From: john SIMMONS
To: Peter Maryniak
Sent: Thursday, May 12, 2005 4:58 PM
I am glad that you received my letter.
I am sorry that you chose to ignore the advice given by HQ that you should first of all approach the District or County. You have chosen to ignore the DC for Castle Ashby and County Commissioner.
I have no intentions of playing your games of subterfuge.
I shall be discussing the matter with the Chief Commissioner this weekend.
(It should be noted that as soon as I received HQ’s decision, my first phone call was to Northampton DC in order to join Scout Active Support therefore the Vicar saying that I ignored HQ instruction that I should now speak to the CC or DC, is, yet again, more rubbish spouted by the Vicar.)
I asked him what he meant about “playing games of subterfuge” but received no answer. !
It was like talking to a brick wall! A letter dated 17 May 2005 from the DC of Castle Ashby (Karen Tonks) saying “John Simmons has passed me your letter of 12th May” “As I would not support your application for any formal role in the new district it is also not appropriate that I support an informal one...” My response dated 18 June asked for the reason behind the decision and her response in part reads “I have not been privy to the specific detail behind your exclusion from Scout Membership and subsequent successful appeal. However on the basis of advise from those who have, I did not feel it was appropriate or beneficial to the District for you to have any role within it”.
Only 4 people were “privy” to the specific detail and those were myself, my supporter and the 2 members of the appeals panel. As Mrs Tonks did not contact any of the four of us, that can only leave one person for her to speak to, and that was John Simmons. He had also not been “privy” to the full details Indeed, in the Rev Simmons letter to me dated 13 August 2004, he states “I believe this to be a personal matter between you and Headquarters and it would be inappropriate for me to become involved or make comment”
My letter to Mrs Tonks dated 7 Feb 2006 repeated my request for the reasons behind her excluding me and asked for which rule in POR she was applying. I also said “having spoken to the Deputy Chief Scout about this <he was on my appeals panel> he confirmed that there is no reason why I should be excluded from assisting or accepting any position offered to me.” I also made it known that I wished to appeal against her decision.
This letter was sent to John Simmons who wrote to me on 13th Feb 2006 stating “I have advised Mrs Tonks not to enter into any exchange of correspondence with you on this matter. The reason that I have done this is basically threefold.
“Firstly I refer to my letter to you dated 12 April 2005, which you have chosen to ignore. Secondly your letter to Mrs Tonks confirms that you are in communication with the Deputy Chief Scout on this matter so it would be quite inappropriate for anyone in this County to become involved in a matter, which is being dealt with by one of the senior officials of the Scout Association. Thirdly, and which I consider is a very significant point - Mrs Tonks has far more important things to do than to get involved in a protracted crusade with yourself and I, as County Commissioner, believe would be inappropriate.”
Please note that something was lost in the translation somewhere. My letter clearly said “having spoken to....” Which was a one off conversation, John Simmons said “are in communication with” which is an ongoing situation.
Also the Rev Simmons filing system seems to be rather strange. He had handed Mrs Tonks my letter dated 12 May 2005 (in response to his dated 12 April 2005) yet he clearly states in his letter to me dated 13 Feb 2006 that I ignored his letter of 12th April 2005. Even though he acknowledged receipt of the letter by email :
The Rev Simmons then ignored my letters dated 21 Feb 2006, 13 March 2006 & 18 May 2006. By the last letter he ignored, I had been to a Child Protection Workshop at a County open day and had spoken in length with the County CP advisor and in the letter dated 18 May to Rev Simmons I wrote “I stated that I would be attending a Child Protection Workshop and would be asking questions that HQ and yourself failed to answer. I had a very interesting discussion and was told that as no-one had complained that I was alone with a minor, then there could be no investigation. I was also told that as I was in loco parentis, that also was absolutely no problem. In addition to these points, by not being on a Scout Association activity, there were, yet again, no issues to be raised. This confirms exactly my statements in correspondence to John Askew and David Shelmerdine. It also proves that there is a difference of opinion and/or training between HQ and CCPA’s. It also confirms that this situation is a national situation and not solely between myself and HQ, as you have previously stated.”
The County CP advisor emailed Rev Simmons basically saying that it was only courteous that I should be told of the reasons behind my not being able to take on any role in the former Castle Ashby district. Rev Simmons wrote back to the CCPA stating that I had ignored the offer to meet with him (untrue, his letter was dated 12 April 2005, my response was dated 12 May 2005 in which I stated what I was doing therefore no meeting was necessary) and he also said “I understand that Peter re-joined the Brixworth fellowship - despite my offer to meet with him to discuss matters. I understand that Xxxx Xxxxxxxxxx has already discussed with him a role within Northampton District - what more does Peter want?”
In 2007, I was asked by Grafton District ESL if I would help the unit at summer camp which was to be held at Youlbury. I was happy to oblige but I did ensure that the new DC (Chris Robinson-Smith) was told that it was myself that was attending even though the PC form needed no name. Chris told the ESL that he had no problems with me going as a helper. A week before the camp, I was told that the Rev Simmons had instructed the DC that I was not to attend the camp. No reason was given. The ESL wrote to me confirming that fact.
Things were settling down in Northampton as far as my position was concerned and activities were going OK, or at least they were until March 2007. The CC (Rev Simmons) had a meeting with my DC and the DC “resigned” (note the inverted commas!!!) Steve Layt was appointed to oversee the day to day running of the District and that was then the start of the emails regarding my appointment eventually leading to the Vicar asking Mr Layt for a report on me and my eventual exclusion from Scouting.