- An Isocnz member has taken the first step towards a special general meeting to address the "moral outrage" of the Domainz board's support of former CEO Patrick O'Brien's lawsuit against Alan Brown.
John Russell, until recently network manager at Ihug and before that the founder of Christchurch ISP Synapse, officially called for support for an SGM in a posting to the Isocnz members' mailing list. He needs the support of 20 Isocnz members for the meeting to be called.
It was on the Isocnz-l list - a public list - that Alan Brown, a director of Manawatu Internet Services, is alleged to have defamed O'Brien, then the CEO of the Isocnz-owned Domainz, in December 1999. The Isocnz council voted early last year to "acknowledge" Domainz was funding the action and has since been silent on the issue. Isocnz members, however, are known to be against Domainz's support of it.
The support of O'Brien was a factor in a campaign by some members which resulted in sweeping changes to the composition of the council and the board - none of which has halted the suit. Domainz chair Bob Gray told IDGNet last week that the board was bound by its earlier commitment to fund O'Brien's action. He admitted that Domainz had little contact with O'Brien's lawyers, Izard Weston other than writing the cheques, which have so far run to about $60,000.
"The decision by the board of directors to pay the personal legal bills of an employee - or contractor, I'm not quite sure of the status of [O'Brien] - in a personal legal battle against a society member was morally and ethically poor," says Russell in his post, which was also provided to IDGNet.
"It is my personal opinion as a society member that this funding should be withdrawn, or similar funding be provided to the other party in this legal battle, and Isocnz/Domainz face the consequences of its actions."
"The results of the actions of the Domainz board are such that Alan Brown has lost a great deal of money currently, could find himself served with a judgement for even more money which could force him out of business, and would have any judgement against him on record for the rest of his life. It's a moral outrage."
Russell says the members of the society can not "wring their hands" and talk about what a shame the action is.
"And I, for one, will not stand by and let it happen, just to save Domainz/Isocnz from the possibility_of future legal action. Domainz/Isocnz needs to accept that it made a BAD CALL, and face the CONSEQUENCES of that bad call."
Russell has drawn up five motions for a potential SGM, including one calling for Domainz to stop funding O'Brien and another for Domainz to fund Brown's defence. Two others call for board and council members to resign if they cannot follow the wishes of members.
Russell has suggested Tuesday April 24 as the meeting date - before Brown has to go to court on May 3. Under Isocnz's Articles of Association, such a meeting can be held electronically - by email or other means. Russell favours that format, but is keener on IRC as a "tried and tested conferencing system".
Russell acknowledges that a motion to cut off support for O'Brien could result in legal action against Domainz.
"However, since Domainz is the prime cause of this entire very unfortunate situation, potential fiscal damage to Domainz is 100% more acceptable than potential fiscal damage to Alan Brown, a private citizen."