Jaguar club split by law of the jungle

THE Jaguar Drivers' Club, one of the motoring world's most respected refuges for car fanatics, is to hire private detectives in a bid to track down the author of a series of poison pen letters.

In the latest twist in a 10-year saga of intrigue and in-fighting, the 12,000-member club has asked lawyers to act over allegations that pounds 131,000 of members' funds has been wasted.

The allegations - disputed by the club - were made in a two-page unsigned letter circulated to senior members several weeks ago in advance of the club's anual meeting on 15 October. It is the latest in a flurry of letters sent anonymously over the past five years. All previous circulars have been ignored, but the club's lawyers said that an agency was likely to be engaged to track down the author of the latest.

Unknown to most motoring enthusiasts, including the majority of its own members, the club has been a hot-bed of political in-fighting for years. Since 1984, there has been the breakaway and formation of another club, the Jaguar Enthusiasts' Club, a series of acrimonious High Court actions and libel suits, and the arrest of a former employee amid allegations of a pounds 100,000 fraud. Criminal charges never materialised, but the employee is still facing a civil action.

When set against the open hostility among senior members of the Jaguar club scene and claims by a number of people that they have been subjected to death threats by unnamed third parties, the poison pen letters appear to reinforce a pattern.

Beginning "The monkeys are running the zoo...", the latest piece of vitriol makes allegations against Graham Marr, the club's chairman for the past decade, directors and advisers.

The club was so incensed by what it considers unfounded slurs that it put the letter in the hands of its solicitor, Nicholas Drukker, with instructions to find the culprit. "We have had a number of these letters, some to members, some to outsiders, and until now no steps have been taken to find the author," said Mr Drukker.

"But this time the club thought enough was enough and measures will be taken to find out who is writing them. They are dripping in libellous remarks."

Mr Drukker is preparing to write to members - including a number of suspects - telling them of the proposed action.

The letter makes three core allegations relating to the alleged wasting of money. The first involves a five-year libel case instigated by Tony Dance, a Scotland-based member who was attacked in the club's magazine, Jaguar Driver.

He was criticised for helping another club organise an event and had his membership rescinded. The letter says he was finally paid pounds 41,000 - a figure confirmed by the club - but it says he would have settled for nothing more than an apology and the return of his membership. It criticises Mr Marr for letting the litigation drag on.

Mr Marr has declined to comment, but the club says it couldn't accept Mr Dance's offer to settle because it was coupled with the condition that he would be allowed to pursue the magazine's former editor, John Owen, separately. The club's heirarchy thought it would be unfair to let Mr Owen stand alone.

The second allegation relates to the installation of a computer system. It claims pounds 25,000 was lost because the system was unsuitable. The club said the problems were caused by a former employee, not by Mr Marr.

The third core criticism relates to the sacking of a former advertising manager who, the letter alleges, took legal action to recover pounds 40,000 in unpaid commission. The club said the manager was paid pounds 23,000.

The Jaguar Drivers' Club (JDC) was formed with Jaguar's support in 1956. A rift developed in 1984 when the Jaguar Enthusiasts' Club (JEC) was formed by disgruntled former officials of the JDC. Anna Dansey, a former board member, resigned, urging Mr Marr to stand down. She was infuriated by an editorial written by him in Jaguar Driver which was to have congratulated the rival JEC on its 10th birthday.

Things went wrong, however, when Mr Marr used the opportunity to allege that Nigel Thorley, a senior JEC member, personally owned it. Mr Thorley does not and issued a writ against the JDC. Jaguar Driver subsequently printed a retraction.

"At a meeting in April, 20 representatives supported my call for Mr Marr to resign," said Mrs Dansey. "Our message to the JEC was meant to be conciliatory but Mr Marr made it offensive. The club needs someone else at the helm."

Mrs Dansey and a number of other members are planning to ask some searching questions at the annual meeting but, according to Mr Drukker, no motions were lodged by the deadlinecalling for Mr Marr to stand down. Nevertheless, Mr Drukker said: "Mr Marr may decide, given the publicity, that someone else should be chairman from now on."

The author of the letter may yet have it their own way.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Extras
indybest
Travel
Flocking round: Beyoncé, Madame Tussauds' latest waxwork, looking fierce in the park
travelIn a digital age when we have more access than ever to the stars, why are waxworks still pulling in crowds?
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Judi Dench appeared at the Hay Festival to perform excerpts from Shakespearean plays
tvJudi Dench and Hugh Bonneville join Benedict Cumberbatch in BBC Shakespeare adaptations
Sport
Is this how Mario Balotelli will cruise into Liverpool?
football
News
Ronahi Serhat, a PKK fighter, in the Qandil Mountains in Iraqi Kurdistan
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Poet’s corner: Philip Larkin at the venetian window of his home in 1958
booksOr caring, playful man who lived for others? A new book has the answer
Arts and Entertainment
Exhibition at the Centre Pompidou in Metz - 23 May 2012
art
News
Matthew McConaughey and his son Levi at the game between the Boston Red Sox and the Houston Astros at Fenway Park on August 17, 2014 in Boston, Massachusetts.
advertisingOscar-winner’s Lincoln deal is latest in a lucrative ad production line
Arts and Entertainment
Alfred Molina, left, and John Lithgow in a scene from 'Love Is Strange'
film
News
i100
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Junior Quant Analyst - C++, Boost, Data Mining

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Junior Quant Analyst - C++, Boost...

Service Desk Analyst- (Desktop Support, Help desk)

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Service Desk Analyst- (Desktop Su...

Junior Quant Analyst (Machine Learning, SQL, Brokerage)

£30000 - £50000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Junior Quant Analyst (Machine Lea...

UNIX Application Support Analyst- Support, UNIX, London

£45000 - £55000 per annum: Harrington Starr: UNIX Application Support Analyst-...

Day In a Page

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

The President came the nearest he has come yet to rivalling George W Bush’s gormless reaction to 9/11 , says Robert Fisk
Ebola outbreak: Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on the virus

Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on Ebola

A Christian charity’s efforts to save missionaries trapped in Africa by the crisis have been justifiably praised. But doubts remain about its evangelical motives
Jeremy Clarkson 'does not see a problem' with his racist language on Top Gear, says BBC

Not even Jeremy Clarkson is bigger than the BBC, says TV boss

Corporation’s head of television confirms ‘Top Gear’ host was warned about racist language
Nick Clegg the movie: Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise

Nick Clegg the movie

Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise
Philip Larkin: Misogynist, racist, miserable? Or caring, playful man who lived for others?

Philip Larkin: What will survive of him?

Larkin's reputation has taken a knocking. But a new book by James Booth argues that the poet was affectionate, witty, entertaining and kind, as hitherto unseen letters, sketches and 'selfies' reveal
Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?

Waxing lyrical

Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?
Texas forensic astronomer finally pinpoints the exact birth of impressionism

Revealed (to the minute)

The precise time when impressionism was born
10 best men's skincare products

Face it: 10 best men's skincare products

Oscar Quine cleanses, tones and moisturises to find skin-savers blokes will be proud to display on the bathroom shelf
Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

eBay's enduring appeal

The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention