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Charities are not what they were

The local press in Northumberland is reporting the appearance in the magistrates' court of the protestors who disrupted the Banks Mining Shotton facility - this was a fairly transparent attempt to have a go at Matt Ridley, in whose back yard the mine is located.

I was interested to see that one of those facing charges is Friends of the Earth campaigner Guy Shrubsole, a familiar name from Twitter.

Perhaps even more remarkable was the appearance of Roger Geffen. That's Roger Geffen MBE, to give him his full title - he was honoured for services to cycling it seems having been the campaigns director of CTC, the cycling charity, for many years.

It's funny to see these officials of registered charities appearing in the dock. Charities are not what they were.



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Reader Comments (53)

The poor things must have become disorientated up in the wild North East and strayed onto the Shotton open cast site. It can be confusing when you leave the familiar comfort of NW1. They were probably only chaining their bikes to the mining equipment for security purposes.

Even worse, they will have to leave their Jolly in Paris early in order to cycle all the way back to Northumberland to receive their sentence. Shame.

Dec 1, 2015 at 1:14 PM | Unregistered CommenterColin Porter

Was Roger protesting as an individual or on behalf of the CTC (Cyclists Touring Club)?

If it was the former, then I think your post is silly. Do you know what his argument with the mine is?

If it was the latter, do you have anything showing the CTC position on the matter?

Roger has done some excellent work on behalf of CTC membership and cyclists in general.

Dec 1, 2015 at 1:44 PM | Unregistered Commenternot banned yet

We will no doubt see much more of these cretins from various fake charities appearing in court since any disreputable organisation appears to be able to gain charitable status. That's exactly why I stopped all contributions to these organisations.

Dec 1, 2015 at 2:06 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohn B

John B - were you a member for long?

Dec 1, 2015 at 2:09 PM | Unregistered Commenternot banned yet

"It's funny to see these officials of registered charities appearing in the dock".

I think such people are stupid, but they aren't bothered about that. Its odd that a gong was administered and he needs to get into mischief that clips the law. Clearly that gong has little to do with common sense. a result of some of them I think you'd need to do a full audit to gain any confidence in what goes on with them...and the money! A lot to do with the term, "out of control".

Dec 1, 2015 at 2:37 PM | Unregistered CommenterEx-expat Colin


Member of what? Never said anything about membership of ctc if that's what you are referring to. And btw it's perfectly legitimate to comment on the activities of Geffen irrespective of who he was representing. If the ctc have a problem with his activities then they know what to do. If they keep him, then we will all know they have no problem with his activities, and we will know where they stand.

Dec 1, 2015 at 2:40 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohn B

Resding Geffen's CV I wonder if they're now giving MBEs away with cornflakes?

Dec 1, 2015 at 3:27 PM | Unregistered CommenterCapell

Matt Ridely was interviewed on BBC Today programme, today, by Nick Robinson. Last item. He did a pretty good job. I think the BBC can 'almost' be commended for daring to interview him on Day 2 of COP21, and with no AGW-scaremonger to directly challenge him. No doubt the complaints have already been flooding in.

Ridley did an excellent job, for example explaing why applying the Precautionary Principal to the AGW scare is not with risk or impact (with some real examples, such as biofuels). Where he could have done better was to the statements: 'you are not a scientist' and 'you disagree with the scientists'. 1st, he does have a scientific degree (zoology), and 2nd, there are many scientists, including climate scientists who do not agree with the AGW scare, and who have peer reviewed papers challenging it.

Dec 1, 2015 at 3:44 PM | Unregistered Commenteroakwood

Corrrection: "why applying the Precautionary Principal to the AGW scare is not withOUT risk or impact"

Dec 1, 2015 at 3:46 PM | Unregistered Commenteroakwood

Perhaps we all need a stock response to "you do not agree with the scientists", taking issue with the question and pointing out that there is a broad range of opinion among scientists and that lukewarmer opinions like Lord R's are far closer to mainstream science than those of well known scientists Emma Thompson and Charlotte Church, neither of whom gets challenged on the science behind their strident views.

Dec 1, 2015 at 4:28 PM | Unregistered CommenterDavid S

not yet banned

I tend to agree with you if Roger Geffen was expressing a personal position, but if you represent an organisation at a fairly senior level it is difficult to do so.

I have been interested in bikes for the last 60 years. I was a member of the CTC in the 60's and I am still a member of Sustrans. I still ride a bike although nowhere near as often as I should and riding a lightweight these days might lead to needing a "crash team".

There are people who realise that the bicycle would never have been invented without the burning of coal. The problem comes in the fact that if you campaign for an increase in cycling, you are expected to disconnect your brain and believe any green crap you are fed as well. Cycling is a great thing to do for ones health, pleasure and for the environment, but when organisations like the CTC and Sustrans get caught up in the exaggerated alarm they do themselves a disservice. Their officers should be careful how they behave - it will always reflect on the organisation.

The bicycle is the most efficient way (least energy per person per mile) to move people from A to B, beats trains and planes etc. Reckoned to be equivalent to approx 1500 mpg in a car.

Dec 1, 2015 at 5:01 PM | Unregistered CommenterRetired Dave

David S
"Which scientists are you referring to?" Then reel off half-a-dozen names starting with Pielke (of whom the probably haven't heard) and/or Curry.
Follow up with "You're surely not suggesting that Vivienne Westwood (or other appropriate name in context) is a scientist, are you?"

Dec 1, 2015 at 5:02 PM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

at 3:44 PM | oakwood

Matt Ridley should have asked, "What scientific qualification do you have, Nick Robinson ?" Surely that would have been a suitable response.

I used it when I was interviewed by a local newspaper reporter. Result - the interview was terminated quickly.

Dec 1, 2015 at 5:37 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohn de Melle

From your link to Roger Geffen I read this paragraph (I like to read links posted on BH)

I first became involved in cycling as a volunteer with the London Cycling Campaign in the late 1980s. I then went on to take active roles in various transport and environment groups including the UK's anti-road movement of the early 1990s.

To me that indicates he is a campaigning environmentalist as well as a cyclist. He seems to have worked a lot in sustainable transport, campaigning groups and local government and not a lot of time making stuff or generating wealth. Looks like this sort of protest would be right up his street.

Dec 1, 2015 at 5:44 PM | Unregistered CommenterSandyS

Matt Ridley has a PhD in Zoology, so Nick Robinson could call him Doctor Ridley if he wished.

Dec 1, 2015 at 5:46 PM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

Retired Dave - No disagreement from me with your comment but it remains unanswered what Roger was objecting to. He states he is a keen hill walker and for all we know he was objecting to what he considers a blot on the landscape?

Perhaps he also objects to windfarm developments on aesthetic grounds?

My objection is to what seems to be a bit of a lazy pot shot on the part of The Bish against somebody who I know has done a lot of good and often thankless work on behalf of his constituency of cyclists.

And yep, I ride a bike too... :-)

Dec 1, 2015 at 5:53 PM | Unregistered Commenternot banned yet

Ok - It was reported at the time as an anti coal event:

From a quick Google I didn't find a CTC position on coal.

Dec 1, 2015 at 6:04 PM | Unregistered Commenternot banned yet

Drove into Central London recently after a long absence...

It wasn't the bus lane cameras or the interminable road works or the box junctions or the black BMWs that terrified me - it was the BLOODY CYCLISTS..!

Dec 1, 2015 at 6:09 PM | Unregistered Commentersherlock1

I think it's a very safe bet that neither Geffen, Shrubsole nor the other seven defendants used pedal-power to get from their Inner London addresses to Shotton for their 'climate change protest'. And I doubt if they are cycling up and down for their court appearances either - it must be taking a toll on their collective carbon footprints.

Dec 1, 2015 at 6:43 PM | Registered CommenterSalopian

not banned yet
On the face of it CTC seems to concentrate on cycling issues, what Roger Geffen and the rest do in their spare time isn't revealed.

I too have been a cyclist on and off all my life, I have to say I feel more vulnerable to dogs and less from cars here in France than I did in the UK. I keep clear of the main roads with lorries moving between Portugal/Spain and Germany though.

Dec 1, 2015 at 6:59 PM | Unregistered CommenterSandyS

I first of all despise the kind of people Geffen works with; the CEO of CTC is a professional NGO/charity parasite based on his career description.
With enormous apologies to the honourable SandyS I feel pretty much the same about UK cyclists in general. People who drive cars have cash leeched out of their pockets quite mercilessly by the government while cyclists get away scot free. Cyclists need no insurance and have contributed not a penny to the construction of the roads they demand to use.
These people all demand something for nothing and the rest of us pay for it.
What were these London citizens doing in Scunthorpe, could they not find a coal mine closer to home? We are looking at political activists here pure and simple and I hope they lock them up and throw away the key ^.^

Dec 1, 2015 at 8:30 PM | Registered CommenterDung

Dung: I tend to agree with you.

You can broadly divide cyclists into two groups: There's one that are generally innocent, but totally naive when it comes to road-safety and awareness of other road users and pedestrians. They could and probably would, take to training, licensing and insurance.

Then you've got the pedal-powered 'activists' and MAMILS who frankly don't give a shit about anybody than themselves. As far as the roads in the Marches, the only biggest danger are the MABOOBs (middle-aged bikers on over-powered bikes) - otherwise known to local emergency services as organ donors.

Dec 1, 2015 at 9:08 PM | Registered CommenterSalopian

"On the face of it CTC seems to concentrate on cycling issues,."

If only. The CTC are "partners" in the The People’s March for Climate, Justice & Jobs.

Dec 1, 2015 at 9:38 PM | Unregistered CommenterTed

"Cyclists need no insurance and have contributed not a penny to the construction of the roads they demand to use."

My house insurance gives me 3rd party cover on my bike. Stand alone cover cost around £20 because bikes don't tend to damage cars and kill people.

As for the roads - when I'm cycling my car is sitting in the drive. Taxes paid. One less car in the traffic jams.

Dec 1, 2015 at 9:42 PM | Unregistered CommenterTed

On Topic:
Yes, there are sanctimonious campainging-against-everything-I can-do-no-wrong twits in the cycling world.
Ted beat me to it. Plus, VED is not a hypothecated tax, roads are paid out of general taxation (Income, Corp, VAT) and Council Tax.
I dont agree with your assessment of cyclists falling into two camps. I'm 56, so I don't bounce as well as I used to and take care to observe the rules of the road, and do my best to avoid falling or getting knocked off, whilst still enjoying the physical pleasure of riding (60+ miles a week). The last thing I want is an irate bloke in a ton+ vehicle having a go at me.
And it would be just as wrong of me to categorise car drivers into inattentive twits and aggressive morons.

Dec 1, 2015 at 10:18 PM | Unregistered Commentermorebeerplease

Ted: Too true, other "partners" in the People's March on Climate, Justice and Jobs, unfortunately include the Woodland Trust, Wildlife Trusts, and the RSPB, so a lot of cancelled subscriptions on my part.

Regarding your second post (9.42pm). I suggest you check the small-print of your policy - it won't cover you in the case of an RTA where you are deemed responsible, and 19 people have been killed by cyclists between 2010-14 (DFT stats).

Dec 1, 2015 at 10:20 PM | Registered CommenterSalopian

morebeerplease: Excuse me, but how does my comment translate into "an irate bloke in a ton+ vehicle having a go at me" Sorry sunshine, but your retort simply epitomises the confrontational nature of a lot of MAMILs

Dec 1, 2015 at 11:06 PM | Registered CommenterSalopian


The road tax and petrol tax are enough to pay for our roads many times over against which cyclists pay what exactly? However consider many roads in cities and even more in towns and ask yourself how much space a cycle takes up? Motorists are almost all respectful of the need to keep a safe distance away from a cyclist if overtaking. In reality this means that in many towns and cities it is impossible to safely overtake a cyclist, a motorist can normally adjust his speed to the traffic conditions but a cyclist can not.
Cyclist insurance at £20 because a bicycle can not do much damage??? What a joke, cyclists are hard to keep track of, they can overtake on the inside as well as the outside and they do just that. A cyclist is far more likely to cause an accident in a town because he is harder to spot than a car and of course the motorist will have to pay. I think humility would be a good attitude for cyclists to adopt.

Dec 1, 2015 at 11:32 PM | Registered CommenterDung

For Salopian and Dung to get worked up about:


Dec 1, 2015 at 11:37 PM | Unregistered Commenternot banned yet

Dec 1, 2015 at 11:37 PM | Unregistered Commenternot banned yet

I foolishly followed your link and no doubt my blood pressure is now somewhere in the stratosphere Grrrrrrrr ^.^

Dec 1, 2015 at 11:46 PM | Registered CommenterDung

I wasn't suggesting that it did. I think you may have misunderstood my comment.
I was merely pointing out why cyclists might not be, as you suggest, either innocent/naive or activist/selfish.
Most cyclists I know are only too aware that p***ing off vehicle drivers by riding badly can make them irate, so we do our best not to do it.
It's quite simple: a collision might dent a car, or wipe the dirt off a lorry, but would probably hospitalise a cyclist.

Dec 1, 2015 at 11:54 PM | Unregistered Commentermorebeerplease

Dung - maybe best to leave this on until tomorrow then? ;-)

Dec 2, 2015 at 12:09 AM | Unregistered Commenternot banned yet

morebeerplease: "Most cyclists I know are only too aware that p***ing off vehicle drivers by riding badly can make them irate, so we do our best not to do it."

If cyclists complied the RTA and Highway Code, most of the issues between cyclists and other road users would not exist, and if cyclists were required to be tested, licensed and insured, like other road users, then the troublemakers could be dealt with.

Dec 2, 2015 at 1:04 AM | Unregistered CommenterSalopian

@Dung That mine is no where near Scunthorpe
"What were these London citizens doing in Scunthorpe, could they not find a coal mine closer to home? "
Scunthorpe is 169 miles north of London, Shotton mine is 119 miles FURTHER north.
Scunthorpe has no col mines. It has Cameron's father-in-laws wind turbines sitting near the enormous steelworks.

Dec 2, 2015 at 2:35 AM | Registered Commenterstewgreen

Activist hijacking charities, then off to Paris expenses paid a more serious problem
- Charity bosses demonstrating on other issues in THEIR OWN TIME is one thing.
But career activists who wheedle their way into bona-fide charities and then hijack them from within is a different matter.
- Paul Homewood points out the National Trust puts Climate Campaigning first these days.
and I notice They have a whole team blogging from Paris .

Dec 2, 2015 at 7:05 AM | Registered Commenterstewgreen

The charity sector in the UK is out of control. The Charity Commission is not so much a regulator as a sort of shop steward for trustees and can be counted on to block any efforts to hold them to account. There is now no real difference between charities aand standard business organisations. Registering as a charity is now simply using a wrapper to go into business, with far less scrutiny and accountability than if not registered as charity.

This is particularly true of the public benefit test. You will now find all kinds of organisations from pressure groups to flat out business operations which in some vague way are accepted by the Commission as being 'in the public interest' when in fact they are no more and no less in the public interest than the average retailer, who after all meets a public need to be able to buy food and drink or clothes.

The rational approach as an individual is never to have anything to do with charities - maybe an exception is local ones run by individuals one knows, but then they are equally unaccountable and if the individuals change, as they will, anything can happen.

The rational approach in terms of public policy would be to abolish the tax exemption.

Dec 2, 2015 at 7:49 AM | Unregistered Commentermichel

"Cyclists...have contributed not a penny to the construction of the roads they demand to use."

That's right folks, buy yourself a cycle and you are automatically exempt from all kinds of taxes. You don't have to pay income tax or VAT and if you have a car you don't have to tax it or pay fuel duty.

Dec 2, 2015 at 7:59 AM | Unregistered CommenterStonyground

Dung...there is no such thing as road tax. Just vehicle tax.

Dec 2, 2015 at 8:09 AM | Unregistered CommenterJohn

I'd be a cyclist if I saw one enjoying it.

Dec 2, 2015 at 8:14 AM | Unregistered CommenterAlan Reed

"Charities aren't what they used to be"

Of course they are not, they are state-sponsored lobbying organisations, and the bigger ones are just part of the establishment, overpaid fat-cat CEO's and all.

Dec 2, 2015 at 8:15 AM | Unregistered CommenterAndrew Duffin


Dec 2, 2015 at 8:36 AM | Unregistered CommenterSanta Baby

I have taken out insurance specifically to cover me whilst cycling, both for personal in should I come off or have an accident which may or not be my fault. I always try and live and let live when riding down some of the narrow roads here. I try and obey the rule of the road too, and certainly always stop at red lights, mind you I have to cycle about 10 miles to get to one! All that seems right and proper and I have no time for those cyclists who make a point of "it's my right to cycle two abreast down a country lane". I've got no time for adults who cycle on pavements, and have similar feelings about mobility scooters driven by elderly people and non-drivers who wouldn't be allowed to drive any other form of motorised transport, but that's a different story.

I have had cars overtake me then immediately brake and turn across me whilst in my car and on the bike, I put it down to the fact some people have no spacial and speed awareness.

I also understand that motorist contribute a huge amount to the exchequer through driving whilst apart from VAT on the original purchase of equipment cyclists get to use the infrastructure virtually FOC. Although as council tax payers they will contribute to local government funded schemes.

Dec 2, 2015 at 8:52 AM | Unregistered CommenterSandyS

Time for a dissolution of the charities. At least, once the ministries and universities have lost their tax funding.

Dec 2, 2015 at 10:11 AM | Unregistered CommenterJoseph Sydney

"I also understand that motorist contribute a huge amount to the exchequer through driving whilst apart from VAT on the original purchase of equipment cyclists get to use the infrastructure virtually FOC."

Most UK citizens have about half of their incomes taken in tax. Vehicle tax and fuel duty are not ringfenced for spending on roads but are just part of overall general taxation. Most cyclists own at least one car and pay vehicle tax and fuel duty anyway. The notion that if you don't pay fuel duty and vehicle tax then you are using the roads for free is incorrect.

Dec 2, 2015 at 10:17 AM | Unregistered CommenterStonyground


You are totally forgiven for being a cyclist but ONLY YOU! ^.^
John...I am getting old so its road tax hehe.

Stoneyground I am sorry my thoughts have fallen upon you so heavily.
Just to spell it out: We all pay income tax and VAT but if you own a motor car you also pay insurance, road tax and petrol tax. When you drive your car you have paid for the privilege and if you cause an accident both parties are covered. If you ride a bicycle you are not obliged to pay a penny and to me that seems totally unfair.

Dec 2, 2015 at 10:25 AM | Registered CommenterDung

To those getting at cyclists. The vast majority drive cars and so do pay the relevant taxes. Whilst some do play fast and loose with the rules of the road, this is no different from what a goodly number of car drivers do. If I had a pound for every time a car doesn't stop on red at my local pelican crossing I would be as well off as the head of the CTC.

Dec 2, 2015 at 10:29 AM | Unregistered CommenterDavid Johnson

That's why I have taken out insurance for cycling. CTC offer third party insurance which I think should be compulsory for cyclists, perhaps over 16 years old, using the roads. I have no real issue with the allocation of costs even if the cycle and public transport are the sole means of transport. Without third party insurance the victims of a accident caused by a cyclist have to resort to ambulance chasers

Dec 2, 2015 at 12:32 PM | Unregistered CommenterSandyS

" if you cause an accident both parties are covered. If you ride a bicycle you are not obliged to pay a penny and to me that seems totally unfair."

Cyclists are just as liable for any injury or damage they cause as drivers. They cause far less though. Cyclists kill what? 2 people a year in the UK. Motor vehicles 2 thousand.

So why is it 3rd party insurance for a cyclist is cheap enough to be a free benefit with CTC membership while for car drivers it costs anything from a couple of hundred to a thousand quid? Because cars cause most of the danger.

Dec 2, 2015 at 12:45 PM | Unregistered CommenterTed

I've done some research on Roger and have found out that he's a hard left anti-roads activist. As he's such a class warrior I'm surprised he could swallow the taste of hypocrisy in his throat and accept his MBE.

Here's a few little nuggets about Rog:

Roger got involved in fights whilst trying to drag people from meetings:
"A sidelight of the SERA meeting mentioned above: a mob of green idealists sought to drag me, fat and nearly 60, out by my feet. I was wearing heavy “Callaghan” shoes and gave Roger Geffen, dynamic young leader of Reclaim the Streets, a really good kick, and the heroic greens fell back. I now always buy Callaghan shoes: whenever I don them, I think of that kick with pleasure."

Roger voluntarily got embroiled in the inquiry into undercover policing after being nicked for planning to occupy a power station in 2009

Roger took part in "The Resistance Conference" that was happy to include anarchists amongst its merry band

Crucially, in a comment on a blog Roger signed off as campaigns director for CTC and also admitted to being a Reclaim the Streets activist, thus linking the CTC with his activism

Reclaim the Streets were/are an anti-capitalist and anti-roads group who block major roads without permission, hold massive 'parties' on the streets they've illegally blocked, and make every normal person's life a complete headache.

Roger got himself into a bizarre parking penalty appeal (which he won) when he was issued with parking tickets for a stripped-out car that had been used to block a road during a Reclaim the Streets protest in 1995

Did those who made Roger a 'Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire' know he is an anti-capitalist with little or no respect for the rule of law?

BTW I'm a cyclist who chucks his hand-built fixie around the streets of London, always a nano-second away from death-by-lorry. I don't run red lights, I don't wear a helmet, and I don't put up with verbal abuse from cabbies as I give as good as I get.

Dec 2, 2015 at 3:27 PM | Unregistered CommenterDavid Smith

"Crucially" -

Roger Geffen January 3, 2012 at 9:23 pm #


I agree that the Guardian article was shockingly insensitive. It was also factually incorrect.

CTC pointed this out here:

The good news is that, after several days of badgering, the Guardian have now agreed that they got their facts wrong, and have just issued a correction:

Best wishes

Roger Geffen
Campaigns & Policy Director,
CTC, the national cyclists’ organisation
(and former Reclaim the Streets activist!)


Dec 2, 2015 at 8:22 PM | Unregistered Commenternot banned yet

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