Discredited CRT Legal Director and Head of Boating booted and shrunk

The CRT Trustees decided recently that Nigel Johnson, the Legal and Corporate Services Director, will retire in 2014 because “We have decided that in the longer term the Trust does not require the expertise of a full time Legal Director”. His post will not be replaced. We have also learnt that Head of Boating Sally Ash has had responsibility for moorings shifted away from her, with her team being shrunk to cover policy on boating and mooring only.

Johnson and Ash have been key players in the attack on the rights of boaters without home moorings since they were appointed to their posts in 2001. Their work has included finding ways to unlawfully circumvent Section 17 3 c ii of the 1995 British Waterways Act, which BW never wanted but Parliament considered necessary to protect boat dwellers without moorings from what many MPs saw as BW’s aggression towards its customers.

We recently discovered that Sally Ash has been a Director of hire boat holiday company Drifters Leisure Limited since 2004, a role that we believe directly conflicts with her responsibilities for policy regarding all types of boaters.

Nigel Johnson earned the disapproval of High Court judge Mr Justice Hildyard last year after he repeatedly denied all knowledge of the reasons why BW did not follow its own procedures for the removal of liveaboard boats and why undertakings by BW not to pursue Section 8 action against liveaboards at Brentford were ignored by enforcement staff.

The judge told Mr Johnson “I think [the claimant] is entitled to concern on these matters which have not been BWB’s best or finest hour … regret is one thing, uncovering how a serious breach could happen is another … I would like to know how this happened in each case”. In the subsequent judgement, which sets a precedent, Hildyard J found that a licence is not required for boats that are being used bona fide for navigation on the River Brent between Thames locks and Brentford Guaging locks. This means if you are on the tidal Thames and need to take shelter, you can pass through Thames locks to the safety of the visitor moorings on the River Brent below the Guaging locks without a BW/CRT licence. The High Court also found that BW had breached the claimant’s Article 8 rights. See Moore v British Waterways Board [2012] EWHC 182 (Ch) available online here:


Responsibility for managing moorings has been moved to the  CRT’s Property and Enterprise department. We understand that Property Director  Stuart Mills believes that more money can be made from moorings, partly by creating more of them. This is not good news for boaters with moorings, who are likely to see costs rising.

The Trustees have also decided to reduce the salaries and bonuses of some of the Directors, though they will still be earning six-figure salaries and their gold-plated pensions will be untouched. This sounds rather like a £10 discount off the cost of a Rolls Royce – still way too much money!

Mr Johnson will be 60 when he goes in 2014. Ms Ash, 61, could have retired on a full pension in 2011, but chooses to continue working, reportedly saying that she is “never going to retire”.

You can download the Trustees Update for July 2012 here CRT Trustees Update July 2012

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