Wrongful election of the 2012 president, expulsion and resignation of board members, improper articles of association, and withholding of information from board members are among charges leveled against the majority of the board of the International PR Association by dissident members.

U.S. director Don Stacks of the University of Miami, the U.S. representative, quit the 2008-09 board. His attempts to return to the 2010-11 board were rejected. He said today he has quit IPRA.

Dissidents claim Johanna McDowell of South Africa was wrongfully elected based on her receiving “40 messages of congratulations.”

Dissidents say her election should be declared null and void because valid other candidates were excluded; no secret ballot was held; the voting software was “corrupted,” and the board ignored complaints of minority board members about the conduct of the election.

McDowell, a British citizen, is joint managing director, HMC Seswa Corporate Communications, Johannesburg.

Board Members Say They Were Ignored

CEO Jim Holt was given a new contract at about $80,000 a year without all board members receiving the terms of the contract, it is charged.

Board member Nigel Chism had told the board that Holt had resigned and was suing IPRA for wrongful dismissal, say dissidents.

Another charge is that Chism has been given a three-year term as treasurer (2010-2012) although the bylaws specify such terms can be only two years.

Ian Adamson of IPRA’s law firm, Bircham Dyson Bell, is quoted as saying that IPRA was the “worst case of mal-administration he had ever seen.”

He noted that the board members were not registered at Companies House as required and that the board took six years to file new articles of incorporation when the deadline was 14 days.

Member services manager Clare Cochrane, who was with IPRA more than ten years, was laid off because of budget problems, said sources. She was paid four months’ salary and a “compensation” payment of about 25,000 pounds (about $40,000).

This action was not put to the board, it is charged.

Members say the Council of IPRA, “the sovereign body” of the group according to Robert’s Rules, made up of representatives from the 60 or so nations with members in IPRA, is being disregarded and key decisions are being made by a few board members.

A new governing setup places control in the hands of representatives elected from “regions” rather than individual countries. A new U.K. corporation has been set up to handle the affairs of IPRA as required by U.K. laws.

A board member said one meeting consisted of “three hours of unpleasant argument.”

Treasury Was Bare in 1995

The treasury of IPRA, which was 50 years old in 2004, had fallen to “about zero” in 1995, said then treasurer Ray Argyle of Canada.

Offices had been moved from Geneva to London.

IPRA had about 900 members in 2004 from 90 countries and had cash of 231,336 British pounds worth $336,000 at that time. Current membership is said to be about 1,000.

Current staff costs, including Holt’s pay of about 60,000 British pounds, consume 80% of total income, said memo by director Volker Stoltz of Germany; Srba Jovanovic of Serbia; Hardie, and Stacks. The memo said directors had been told that Holt intends to stay for another five years.