Howe Quits as Chair of BFS

David Howe resigned as Chairman of the British Fantasy Society just one week after he helped announce the winners of the British Fantasy Awards at Fantasycon. Howe, the awards administrator, was accused by prominent editor Stephen Jones, among others, with a conflict of interest because he is a partner in Telos, the publisher of two BFA-winning stories and winner of Best Small Press, and also is the domestic partner of Sam Stone, winner of two fiction BFA’s.     

British Fantasy Society President Ramsey Campbell exonerated Howe in a statement informing members of the resignation:

Following the recent public allegations made regarding this year’s British Fantasy Awards, The British Fantasy Society Committee would like to state for the record that it is our firm belief that no corruption or wrongdoing took place during the administration of the British Fantasy Awards, and that in this respect all awards should still stand as presented. We confirm that the summation of the votes cast was performed electronically and once the results were checked they were confirmed and verified by another member of the committee.

Campbell asserts that Howe had no control over awards selection, only stepping in to arrange for the physical awards and ceremony when the original administrator was “unable to continue due to personal issues”:

David did not have any involvement with the nominations, short listing or the voting process, other than with the awards administration (procuring the statuettes, plaques, etc) and we are happy that the voting/counting process was 100% accurate within the scope of the current rules. We therefore completely exonerate David from any wrongdoing in the administration of the 2011 Awards.

Perhaps one with full knowledge of the context can reconcile Campbell’s statement with Howe’s own explanation posted October 5 which I took to be an admission of a role in the voting process:

[There] were 140 valid individuals voting in the Awards (I did have to exclude a couple of voters as they were not BFS Members and had not attended FantasyCon either last year, nor were they listed to attend this year).

So the winners were simply those who those that voted thought were worth voting for. Several of the categories were very close between the votes, with in some cases just one vote separating the winner. I asked Del Lakin-Smith, the BFS Webmaster, who was also looking after the online results forms, to do a double check count and tally to ensure complete transparency in what the members had voted for. The results were as announced.

Campbell promises that the awards procedures will be “addressed going forward to maintain the integrity of the society.”

[Via Ansible Links.]