Colin Whiting MRCVS has resigned his position on the RCVS Council after the College approved a new ‘How we work’ statement requiring Council members to publicly support all decisions taken by Council, even if they disagreed.

In his first year of what would normally have been be a four-year term, Colin served on the College’s Education Committee, PIC/DC Liaison Committee, and on the Advancement of the Professions Committee as Council Deputy Lead for the ViVet innovation programme.

VetSurgeon.org caught up with Colin, who explained: "I've never had any problem with the idea of respecting Council decisions, even those I disagree with.

"However, I questioned the interpretation of collective responsibility when I first joined Council, and was told that in the event of disagreement, it was OK for councillors to say publicly that there was a 'split vote', or 'opinions varied'.

"This new statement would mean that if I disagree with a Council decision, I would now either have to lie in public and say I supported it, or run away and hide.

There were two other aspects of the new statement which Colin was not prepared to sign up to.

The first was a new requirement that councillors "support the College’s vision".

Colin said: "People who actively disagree with the College's vision should be free to stand to join Council, and if the profession disagrees with the College's vision, they'll get elected!"

The second was a requirement for councillors to "Live the College’s values"

Colin said: "Although perhaps inline with a corporate ethos, I think it represents quite a conflict.

"The values someone lives by are a deeply personal matter, and shouldn't be imposed by the majority vote of a committee they happen to sit on - however much they may or may not be likely to align."

Colin's resignation prompted VetSurgeon.org to carry out a quick analysis of the percentage of RCVS Council meeting agenda items marked as 'Confidential' from November 2015 to June 2022, to see whether the requirement to tow the party line reflected a broader lack of transparency at the College. 

In the four Council meetings from November 2015-2016, 12% of the agenda items in the Council minutes were marked 'Confidential'.

By 2022, that figure had more than doubled to 36% (see graph right). 

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