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OZNISHAMBLES AS TOP QC SAYS CITY OF ADELAIDE EXPORT MAY BE “UNLAWFUL”

November 28th, 2013 | by Andy Brockman
OZNISHAMBLES AS TOP QC SAYS CITY OF ADELAIDE EXPORT MAY BE “UNLAWFUL”
Heritage
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UK Government allows “unlawful” export of “City of Adelaide” as OZ Government says no more public money ever for historic clipper

Campaigners hoping to prevent the export of the historic clipper ship City of Adelaide have obtained advice from leading QC Richard Harwood, that the export of the ship to Dordrecht in the Netherlands was “unlawful” and her onward export to Australia would be equally unlawful unless the UK Authorities grant an EU Export licence.

HeritageDaily can also reveal that Heritage Minister Ed Vaizey at the Department of Culture Media and Sport [DCMS], Arts Council England [ACE] which administers export licences for cultural items such as museum artefacts, and National Historic Ships UK which administers the UK Historic Fleet of nationally important ships, were warned in writing that the Open General Export Licence obtained by the City of Adelaide’s owners was almost certainly not lawful before the vessel left the UK in October 2013, but they declined to act.

All three organisations have in the past maintained that the process leading to the sale of the ship to an Australian group, Clipper Ship City of Adelaide Ltd [CSCoAL], and her subsequent export was properly conducted, but they have never quoted specific legal advice that this is the case.

Mr Harwood’s opinion was obtained as part of a last minute effort to prevent the export of the City of Adelaide to her name city in South Australia which is due to continue in the next few days with the City of Adelaide, the World’s oldest surviving Clipper, scheduled to be piggy backed on board the heavy lift cargo vessel MV Palanpur. Mr Harwood’s argues that the export licence is unlawful because there is a strong case that the City of Adelaide should be treated as a Listed Monument because she was a Class A Historic Building [Scotland] and that in any case her value was not properly calculated for export licence purposes and far exceeds the threshold value of £43,484 required to trigger the process for an Individual Export Licence.  As a result he concludes…

” . … an EU licence is required to export it [the City of Adelaide] from the European Union and an individual application for a UK licence was required to export it to Holland. The Dutch authorities should only permit its export if an EU licence is granted.  As the ship was unlawfully exported to the Netherlands that licence can only be granted by the UK authorities.”

Of course, it is important to stress that in legal terms “unlawful” does not mean any individual or entity has acted with deliberate illegality.  Even if the export of the ship is unlawful Clipper Ship City of Adelaide Limited, their agent arranging the export licence, or another party to the process such as the DCMS or ACE, may have made a genuine mistake in good faith and there is no evidence of any deliberate attempt to circumvent the export licence process.

That said, and even allowing that everyone agrees the engineering expertise deployed by CSCoAL Ltd and its contractors has been impressive, it is clear that there are serious questions to be asked about the apparently shambolic licensing process overseen by Heritage Minister Vaizey.  Added to which there is a growing sense of confusion surrounding the future of the ship even if she does reach Australia.

“…the Australian Government will not provide any further funding…”

The export of the City of Adelaide to her name city was meant to secure the ship’s future after the failure of the UK Historic Ships community to fund her conservation over more than twenty years in spite of her national importance.  However, the whole basis of that calculation is now in question, because the controversy over the validity of the Export Licence and the probably unlawful nature of the initial export of the City of Adelaide to the Netherlands, comes on top of a series of blows to the financial credibility of the Australian project.

In October 2013, as the ship was lying at Greenwich prior to a renaming ceremony attended by HRH The Duke of Edinburgh, State and Federal Authorities in Australia stated publicly that once a grant to help bring the ship to Australia was confirmed, no further funds will be made available for the City of Adelaide under any circumstances and the ship’s Australian owners, CSCoAL Ltd, are not even allowed to apply for further State or Federal funding.

This is of considerable importance for the long term viability of the project as it is well known that conservation projects for historic ships are ferociously expensive, with the analogous Cutty Sark Project at Greenwich being budgeted at £25 million even before the fire which destroyed much of the fabric of the ship and doubled the cost of the project.

In spite of the UK Authorities including Historic Scotland claiming that CSCoAL had met a series of criteria put in place to ensure the future conservation of the ship, it is argued by some that the Australian business plan is fragile and depends on what are argued to be over optimistic projections for private fund raising which are already unravelling.

The reasoning behind this view was apparently reinforced when on 17 October 2013, the incoming Australian Government agreed to pay the $A850,000 to subsidise the transport of the ship to Australia pledged by their predecessors, but only under stringent conditions which deny all future responsibility for the ship once it arrives in Australia…

“The Australian Government’s offer of funding is subject to Clipper Ship “City of Adelaide”

“Limited’s acceptance that the Australian Government will not provide any further funding to either the Clipper Ship “City of Adelaide” Limited or the historic vessel City of Adelaide and that neither will further funding be sought.”

http://www.nationalhistoricships.org.uk/data/files/20131017_City_of_Adelaide_clipper_ship.pdf

This announcement echoed a similar announcement by Fred Hansen, Chief Executive of renewal South Australia who said…

“Access to the site was provided on the basis that there is no additional cost to taxpayers for developing the facility or refurbishing and maintaining the vessel.”

http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/national/clipper-ship-city-of-adelaide8217s-home-in-largs-north-to-be-challenged-in-state-parliament-this-week/story-fnii5yv7-1226740226357

Research by Andy Brockman, working with the UK Campaigners from SOS City of Adelaide, a consortium of concerned heritage groups including two organisations from the ship’s home port of Sunderland where the City of Adelaide was built in 1864, the Jack Crawford Trust [JCT] and the Sunderland City of Adelaide Rescue Fund [SCARF], suggests this apparently less than ringing endorsement of the project highlights what appears to be an almost complete lack of support for the City of Adelaide project among maritime heritage professionals, museums and government agencies in Australia. All of which suggests the UK campaigners may be right when they allege there is a significant risk that the ship could simply be left to rot if the CSCoAL Ltd Project were to fail to reach its financial targets and so should never have been sold to the Australians in the first place.

“…it looks like it will now just lay derelict in an area no one will visit,”

Adding to the sense of improvisation and uncertainty which surrounds the CSCoAL project is further controversy in Australia over the site allocated to the ship at Largs, over five kilometres from the site in the centre of the new Port Adelaide Development which CSCoAL wanted.  CSCoAL gave the gifting of “the backwaters” Largs North site a muted welcome, with Director Peter Christopher telling the Adelaide Messenger that he was disappointed.

“Our group would have preferred a site in central Port Adelaide but we are also appreciative of the fact we’ve been given this land,”   Christopher continued “We have accepted the site from Renewal SA but if another or better site became available before the ship’s arrival, we would explore other options.

“If the council had any other prime land available in the Port that they are able to give to us, we would explore that option.”

http://www.adelaidenow.com.au/messenger/west-beaches/city-of-adelaide-clipper-ship-to-be-moored-in-8216backwater8217-of-largs-north-8212-not-port-adelaide/story-fni9llx9-1226723733901

However, Councillor Bruce Johanson was more outspoken when he told “the Australian”…

“So much money has been spent getting the City of Adelaide to Port Adelaide and it was meant to be a big attraction for the area, but instead it looks like it will now just lay derelict in an area no one will visit,”

http://m.theaustralian.com.au/news/city-of-adelaide-clipper-ship-to-be-moored-in-8216back-waters8217-of-largs-north-8211-not-port-adelaide/story-e6frg6n6-1226723733901

Another local politician, Port Adelaide Enfield Mayor Gary Johanson said the government “needed to go back to the drawing board” adding “Putting the ship down at Largs North will do nothing for the Port”.

HeritageDaily understands that these issues were laid before the UK Authorities, including the DCMS and National Historic Ships UK, before the ship left UK jurisdiction in October, but they felt it unnecessary to intervene to delay the export of the ship until the issue of an appropriate permanent site for the vessel was resolved.

At the time of writing, the Dutch Authorities have confirmed that they require a request from the UK in order to act in the matter of the Export Licence – EU Directives allow for the return of improperly exported cultural material – however it is understood that no such request has been received from London.

The Dutch have also confirmed that the UK Authorities have told them that they do not regard the City of Adelaide as a “historic treasure” in the UK; a designation which would allow the Dutch to intervene to stay the export.  The UK campaigners are baffled by this stance pointing out that if the City of Adelaide has no historic importance why was she listed as a Class A Historic Building in Scotland and subsequently placed on the Scottish Buildings at Risk register; why was she a member of the UK Historic Fleet, maintained on behalf of the Government by National Historic Ships UK, based in Greenwich, home of the Cutty Sark and why would campaigners in the UK and Australia want her in the first place?

Meanwhile in Scotland, where until the sale to the Australian group the City of Adelaide formed part of the collection of the Scottish Maritime Museum at Irvine, the grant of £750,000 given to Clipper Ship City of Adelaide Ltd by Scottish Culture Minister Fiona Hyslop, is currently under investigation by Audit Scotland following complaints that the grant was made inappropriately and without due diligence.

The campaigners also point out that taking into account the grant of £500,000 given to save the ship in 1992 and the controversial grant given by SNP Culture Minister Hyslop, the UK Heritage establishment has spent a minimum of £1,250,000 in order that CSCoAL can export one of the UK’s most important historic ships at the reported cost for the ship of just £1.  To this can be added the Australian Government grant of $A850,000 to assist in the transport of the ship to Australia.  All in all this represents a level of public subsidy most UK heritage projects can only dream of and it is a lot to pay for what is effectively a pile of firewood on a frame of scrap iron of no historical value as the UK Authorities maintain.

If Mr Harwood is correct and the export of the City of Adelaide is indeed unlawful there is also a wider issue at stake which affects the entire heritage community.    Any unlawful export in this field creates a dangerous precedent potentially enabling unscrupulous would be exporters to circumvent certain export regulations designed to prevent the inappropriate trade in heritage and cultural items.  In this case the export of the ship exposes a mechanism whereby the owner of an artefact can override listed status and other designations of historic importance which are supposed to prevent such exports without individual scrutiny by assigning an artificially low financial value to the item and redefining its historic importance.

Both Heritage Minister Ed Vaizey, and Arts Council England were supplied with Mr Harwood’s legal opinion and asked to comment.  Heritage Daily also understands the DCMS and other UK bodies have also been asked to intervene to prevent the onward export of the City of Adelaide to Australia from the Netherlands until the issue of the Export Licence is clarified.  Thus far the DCMS has declined to comment.  However a spokesperson for Arts Council England told Heritage Daily “We take all such concerns seriously, and these have been passed to senior officers in the Export Licensing Unit who will be meeting to discuss this matter in due course.”

Clipper Ship City of Adelaide Ltd was also approached for a comment, but they too have so far declined to do so.

Header Image : Farewell City of Adelaide in the Thames at Greenwich Ocober 2013 copyright Andy Brockman

Written by Andy Brockman

© Copyright 2013 HeritageDaily - Heritage & Archaeology News
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  • Jayne Mackem

    What an amusing and incredible argument. Within the EU categories for the export of cultural goods are:
    “2. Elements forming an integral part of artistic, historical or religious monuments which have been dismembered, of an age exceeding 100 years [below £0 value].”
    “14. Means of transport more than 75 years old [below £43,484 value].”
    The Scottish Maritime Museum was evicted from the clipper’s site and were faced with demolishing the ship. The SMM called for tenders to demolish the ship and were faced with spending money to do so – thus giving the ship a negative value (a financial liability). In order to demolish the ship the A-Listed status had to be removed by the council. It would have been necessary to remove the A-Listing in order to move the ship to Sunderland or Australia. The A-Listing was lifted by September 2013, well prior to export.
    I am impressed that a QC can create a legal argument that a clipper ship is not a “means of transport” but is instead a “dismembered” “historical monument”. I am also impressed that a QC can argue that after 13 years and no viable propositions coming from the UK, that the conversion of monies for demolition companies to remove the “means of transport” into the beneficial outcome of a non-profit group performing a rescue of a  “dismembered” “historical monument” means that the ship suddenly becomes of positive monetary value.
    I am amazed that despite having three months public notice of the impending departure of the ship, together with the QC’s legal advice, and the no doubt diligent research by Andy Brockman, that the Jack Crawford Trust and SCARF were not sufficiently fortified to take any legal action to prevent the ship’s departure.
    It seems the real moral here is that omnishamble protest groups like the Jack Crawford Trust and SCARF need to take pro-active action and establish viable and funded alternatives, rather than whining and taking wildly aimed pot-shots from the sidelines at a volunteer group working (successfully) to save a world heritage “means of transport”. The rescue of the ‘City of Adelaide’, which seems anything but a shambles, should be lauded and applauded as a shining example of how volunteer groups can beat adverse odds to save our heritage.
    If I ever leave my husband, I hope I can get that QC on my side!
    Jayne Mackem

  • John Prescott

    There is no date on this post but in any case the esteemed lawyer’s views might count for little as Palanpur is reported to be in the Atlantic heading almost due west at 13 knots (Nov 28). There is no confirmation that the hull of City of Adelaide is actually on board the heavy-lift ship but it is reported that the vessel left Rotterdam Maasvlakte several days ago and that Norfolk is her destination port. The question is: was City of Adelaide loaded at Rotterdam or is the hulk still sitting on the quayside awaiting shipment. A route by Palanpur to Adelaide via the US would be unusual though not outside the bounds of possibilities, especially if other cargo was offered to the US or from N America/Caribbean to Australia region.

  • Andy Brockman

    Hello Jayne and thank you for your response which clearly lays out the case argued by the official bodies caught up in this saga and criticised in the article,
    I should make clear I am not taking a position on where the City of Adelaide should end up, or on the twenty plus years of abject failure on the part of the UK Historic Ships community from National Historic Ships UK and the Scottish Maritime Museum down to conserve a ship which is arguably more historically important than the Cutty Sark.
    Neither am I questioning Clipper Ship City of Adelaide Ltd’s commitment to moving the ship to Australia, or the technical prowess of their contractors, indeed I acknowledge it.   
    The article is questioning the process under which the City of Adelaide was exported because a leading QC who is expert in the Law relating to cultural issues has said there are serious questions to answer about the way the value of the ship was calculated and her status as a historic monument.  If either or both questions are legally sound the export of the ship was “unlawful” and those involved should have known this and have legitimate questions to answer.
    The article is also questioning the apparently shambolic state of the arrangements at the ship’s destination in Adelaide and the fact that the Australian Government at Federal and State level have washed their hands of the ship in a very public statement and said that CSCoAL Ltd may not even apply for further funding, which the Authorities say they will not give to the ship anyway.   
    In other words if the CSCoAL fails to meet its financial targets [and by their own admission the site offered at Largs places them at an immediate disadvantage in terms of developing the infrastructure and audience to sustain such a project]  the City of Adelaide could be in the same state in Australia that she was in the UK and all the UK Authorities will have achieved  is redesignating the ship SEP: Someone Else’s Problem. 
    Another QC might come up with a different opinion, as might a Court if this goes to legal review, but for now, far from taking a wildly aimed pot shot form the sidelines,  Mr Harwood has given us the only legally reasoned exposition of this case and I think we in the heritage community, should take it seriously; as should the DCMS, ACE, National Historic Ships UK,  the Scottish Maritime Museum, Historic Scotland and the Scottish Culture Minister.  
    The public who care about the conservation and protection of our shared heritage depend on heritage professionals doing their jobs competently, objectively and lawfully.  For the most part they do so, against the odds and with diminishing resources, but when there is a thoroughly argued expert opinion that there may have been failures, as exists in this case, it is in the public interest to discuss the circumstances and seek a remedy and resolution which ensures any failures are not repeated.
    On a purely factual point, while they have protested the export of the ship in writing, the Jack Crawford Trust is a Registered Charity, set up to attempt to keep the ship in UK and to conserve her in the place she was built Sunderland, not an “onmishambles protest group”.   Members of Scarf have protested the export in public demonstrations, including at Greenwich during the renaming ceremony in October, but they have every right to do so and as the article suggests, based on Mr Harwood’s opinion they may also have good reason.
    Finally a note on the date of this article.
    “John Prescott” is correct that the MV Palanpur is now en route across the Atlantic.  This article was completed before she sailed form the Netherlands. 
    Andy Brockman

  • Andy Brockman

    (Post date is shown under the social buttons)

  • Jayne Mackem

    Hello Andy,
    Your article seems to lack neutrality and balance. Even the ‘Oznishambles …’ title seems to try to mock the Australians efforts.
    It took me less than 3 minutes to Google the published Arts Council’s Guidance for Exporters: http://www.artscouncil.org.uk/media/uploads/Guidance_for_Exporters_Issue_1_2013_ACE_web_version_1d_.doc 
    Your article seems like the Australians are being ‘tried by media’. Did you not feel the need to set out both sides of the argument rather than take a stance on the side of Jack Crawford Trust and SCARF? The authorities must be chuckling at the in-fighting inside the heritage community … a house divided …
    The article’s connotations that the Australians made “genuine mistakes in good faith” seem very unfair even if the ship is not a “means of transport” . Did you approach QC Richard Harwood directly to test whether he was provided factual information by Jack Crawford Trust/SCARF? Perhaps the reality is that the Australians actually followed the ‘Guidance for Exporters’, and the frustrated Sunderland protest groups are trying to fling mud hoping that some of it will stick.
    I found on the CSCOAL website a news release on 23 August 2013 (http://cityofadelaide.org.au/our-news/our-news-articles/107-2013-news/805-bound-for-south-australia-23-august-2013.html) announcing the impending move. Their latest news release which seems to pre-date your article by two days, shows a picture of the clipper on the back of the other ship (another “means of transport”) http://cityofadelaide.org.au/our-news/our-news-articles/107-2013-news/845-last-voyage-underway-26-november-2013.html
    You allude that the only “purely factual point” in the article is that the Jack Crawford Trust is not an “omnishamble protest group” but you do not seem to have challenged them as to why they took no legal actions with three months notice of the impending move. Or was it really that the ship is a “means of transport” with far less value than implied? Is it that they had actually no real legal grounds, and so, frustrated, sought out this forum to create innuendo?
    The purely factual points of this project include:
    - The SMM were evicted from the site (c1999-2000) and sought to get the ship removed by demolition.
    - In 2006, the local council agreed to the demolition of the ship.
    - In 2010, the Scottish Government called for a review of the available options and saw that the Australians had a the only viable and credible  scheme. The Scottish assessment has since been backed up by the impressive works to save the ship: http://cityofadelaide.org.au/the-project/transportation.html  Thank goodness the Scots had that foresight!!
    - In 2011/12 the Australians began the works, and in 2013 the ship was saved. The only inconvenience for Britons is that they now have now to go to Australia to see the ship rather than travel to Sunderland (or more realistically, see a written archaeological survey of the ship that would have been otherwise demolished).
    - The departure of the ship from the UK has long been garnering huge publicity both here and abroad. Ample notice for any non-emotional real arguments to be lodged in the courts.
    So Andy, why are you motivated to concentrate on the hearsay elements of this incredible project? Why are you making the argument on behalf of these self-interested protest groups that our heritage professionals are not “doing their jobs competently, objectively and lawfully”? Does it serve any real purpose other than to pander to the ego of the Sunderland protest groups who did not have the fortitude to back up their own assertions, or to publicly make the claims themselves. They should “put up, or shut up” rather than get you to do their bidding in this forum.  How do you think your commentary and assertions makes the heritage professionals who also access this forum feel? What/who do your comments serve?
    Your article certainly serves the negative affect of dividing the heritage community, when we need to be rallying together to pool our scant resources.
    The UK and international heritage communities should herald this exemplar project as a prime example of how volunteer heritage groups can persevere and pull off the unimaginable. It has been more than 40 years since a similar undertaking with the ‘SS Great Britain’ saved from the Falklands and brought back here. I hope that it is not another 40 years before we see another such rescue. While negativity groups like the Jack Crawford Trust exist, more ships and buildings are likely to be demolished, rather than rescued. Our heritage energies need to be funnelled into positive pursuits.
    I hope that in the future we will see a positive article from you telling the wonderful story about how this heritage “means of transport” was saved from the demolishers.  The imagery on the Australian’s website is astounding and inspiring! The tenacity and skill of the Australian project should be admired, and not admonished. Starve the negative naysayers like the Jack Crawford Trust of any oxygen. These groups just hide in the shadows and have the overall effect of harming our heritage community. We, the heritage community, need nurturing. Positive stories such as the rescue of the ‘City of Adelaide’ are needed to inspire others to achieve similar dashing feats.
    If I was ever leave my husband, I am also sure to seek out an Australian removals team! (I am not planning to leave him!)
    Jayne Mackem

  • Stewart Pearson

    Hello Jayne,
    I support your comments. Questioning Mr. Brockman’s motivation and one-sided argument for the article is appropriate.
    The article uses the pretence of being journalistic but in reality is non-objective campaigning from the loose cooperative of protestors such as the Jack Crawford Trust and SCARF. Mr. Brockman issued a media release on behalf of the cooperative on 6th September titled “LEGAL MOVES POSSIBLE AS HISTORIC CLIPPER SHIP CITY OF ADELAIDE FACES EXPORT TO UNCERTAIN FUTURE IN SOUTH AUSTRALIA”. At that time Mr. Brockman used the email address with his name and phone numbers.
    Mr. Brockman’s media release quotes a faceless/nameless spokesperson critical of the process. Back in September, Mr. Brockman’s release states that the campaigners were then taking legal advice to stop the export.
    Mr. Brockman has failed to reveal his conflict of interest and personal involvement with the protesters. The article is therefore not honestly conveyed, and of doubtful accuracy and fairness. It does not differentiate between fact and opinion and appears to be written to distort facts and cause discrimination to the Australian project. Mr. Brockman’s article is therefore unethical and fails the UK’s journalistic code of conduct.
    In his subsequent comment, Mr. Brockman falsely claims that he is “not taking a position on where the City of Adelaide should end up”. Yet his article, comment, and cooperative of conspirators are focussed on the issue of the ship going to Australia rather than on the immense benefit to the international community of the ship having been saved from demolition.
    I respect Mr. Brockman and his shadowy cohorts right to pursue their own views and endeavours. If there was any true illegality as claimed back on 6th September, and again in this article, then it would have been just and proper to see Mr. Brockman’s case played out in the courts. Of course, as our justice system provides, that would also provide those seemingly defamed by Mr. Brockman with the right of redress and reply: the Australians, National Historic Ships, Scottish Maritime Museum, Arts Council England, Heritage Minister Ed Vaizey, Department of Culture Media and Sport, and various other heritage professionals. Perhaps even QC Richard Harwood has been misinformed and misrepresented by these people.
    That Mr. Brockman should publish such an inherently dishonest and unethical article in this forum and community is to me shameful. That he now casts such aspersions by issuing the article after the clipper ship has departed both the UK and the EU, nearly twelve weeks after his media release saying that legal advice was being sought to stop the export, is to me reprehensible.
    In my view, Omnishambolic – certainly. Omnishameful – more apt.

  • Michael

    Hello Jayne,
    I’d just like to point out that if your husband owns a £50,000 Jaguar E-Type and finds himself owing £55,000 in storage rental fees, the car is still worth £50,000, not -£5,000!  Although then you might have grounds for that divorce attorney…
    Sincerely,
    Michael

  • Jayne Mackem

    Hello Michael,
    My husband had a Jaguar SS90 which used to be his grandfather’s. It was in shocking condition. Not at all roadworthy, and it would cost an enormous amount to make it roadworthy. It was too rusty to even lift without a cradle.
    I wanted him to get rid of it because we needed to convert the garage due to our growing family. If my husband did not move it, I was going to get scrap metal merchants in to take it piece by piece out our front door.
    My husband had the SS90 on the market for 11 years at £50,000 on an as-is/where-is basis. No-one made an offer due to its condition and its predicament. It therefore was not worth £50,000, even though he wished it so.
    The predicament was that it was in a hemmed in garage in our backyard. There was no longer any access to any streets, because over the decades all of the old access points were blocked off and we had no right of way. It was going to cost us more than the car was worth to just get it out. This meant the car had a negative value.
    However, this Australian guy kept coming around to look at the SS90. Over the years, he eventually worked our a clever way to get the car out that no-one else had thought of.
    Eventually the Australian makes an offer for the SS90 for £43,483, less the £90,000 it is going to cost him to extricate the SS90 from the garage, over the roofs of the neighbour’s houses and then repair the garage afterwards. I am relieved because the scrap metal merchants wanted £60,000 to cut the car up small enough to get it out. Over the scrapping option, we will be in front financially with this Australian’s offer plus it is a good feeling that the old car will be saved.
    The Australian checked the export licensing requirements by contacting one of the heritage professionals at DCMS. The DCMS people advised him that even though his SS90 is a “means of transport” of more than 75 years of age, he is okay to export it because the value of the vehicle is beneath the £43,484 threshold.
    Meanwhile, one of our grumpy neighbours has being coveting my husband’s car for many years. Our neighbour did not make my husband an offer, or set up a savings plan for one day housing the car, or work out how to get the car out. He just insisted that we give it to him by moving it into his backyard at our expense. He even wanted us to build him a garage in his backyard to put it in.
    On the very day that the Australian guy has these cranes hired and is swinging the car over the roof tops, the neighbour meets with this lawyer, tells him that this expensive monument is being exported overseas and says we have to stop the whole process because it is not lawful and in his eyes the car is worth a lot more.
    The authorities patiently tell the neighbour that the whole process is indeed lawful, and meets the preexisting regulations. The neighbour will not listen. He starts ringing our MP complaining about what we are doing, and tells the MP and his lawyer that we have a dismembered historical monument to British car manufacturing and the process must be stopped. The MP cannot do anything with our neighbour who is by now becoming hysterical.
    Finally, the Australian completes the task. The car is removed and now our family can get on with our lives and start to do something with the garage we have finally recovered.
    The next thing we know, our neighbour has organised this article in the local paper that does not explain the whole situation, has these headlines about us being responsible for exporting this dismembered historical monument, describes the possibility of us doing it again, and accuses me, my husband, the Australian, our MP, and the professionals at DCMS of breaking the law – possibly unkowingly – but in any event we are doing so in a shockingly shambolic way. The most atrocious aspect of our ‘crime’ was that we were accused of permitting the car go to Australia where Britons would no longer be able to see it (although they had no interest over the last decades). He did not take any meaningful action during all those years, but after the car had left thought he would take a shot at and cast aspersions on all those people who ignored him and to make himself feel better for not having acted himself.
    Nevertheless Michael, I guess the point that you are trying to make is that I should have also charged my husband £5,000 storage fees for housing the car in our garage for the 11 years. I think you are then suggesting that my husband should have then raised the price for the car by £55,000 to recoup the value of the storage as well, thereby making the scrapping option more financially attractive, or do you think that would that have justified my husband giving the car to the neighbour?  Or did you think we had a showroom quality E-Type Jag in our garage?
    Jayne Mackem