Exclusive: Stewart Pressured to Resign

Former World Champion Jackie Stewart is facing a major fight to keep hold of his position as president of the British Racing Drivers' Club, after an Extraordinary General Meeting was called this week to vote on whether he should be removed from office, Autosport-Atlas can exclusively reveal

Exclusive: Stewart Pressured to Resign

The BRDC, which owns the Silverstone circuit, has been beset by political in-fighting for several months, and the situation deteriorated significantly since the start of this year, after Ray Bellm was ousted as chairman of the club, followed by suggestions of an alleged £300,000 fraud by a former club member.

The handling of the Bellm affair highlighted a major rift between Stewart and certain factions of the club - which appear to have been eased very little by the appointment of new chairman Stuart Rolt and Stewart's decision to take a more 'ambassadorial position' in his role.

Autosport-Atlas had seen documents, which reveal that an informal vote was recently held among members to gauge how much support Stewart maintains in the club. The poll, which was conducted by the BRDC's regional co-ordinators, delivered an overwhelming indication that Stewart did not have support.

The club's members were split into voting and non-voting members and were all asked whether they believed Stewart should stand down from his role and take a non-executive position at the BRDC. With a turnout believed to have been close to 50 percent, sources claim that more than 80 percent of both sets of members said they believed Stewart should step down.

The results were put to Stewart in a meeting he held with regional co-ordinators on March 23, where he was effectively told that if he did not listen to the members' vote and step down, then he would face the risk of being removed from his position at an EGM.

Stewart informed the BRDC on Wednesday that he would not be stepping down from his role, claiming that he believed the process which had been undertaken was not democratic, and the BRDC members were swiftly issued with an EGM requisition.

Extracts of the requisition papers, which were distributed to BRDC members and were obtained by Autosport-Atlas, reveal that Stewart is ready for a major battle.

According to these papers, the co-ordinators found Stewart, on their March 23 meeting, in a far from conciliatory mood, especially about the way the poll was conducted and how he would defend his role if the matter went to an EGM.

"JYS (Stewart) was critical of the slanted papers which he said contained inaccuracies, although he did not specify what they were," said the document, adding: "JYS said that if he decided not to stand down voluntarily as President, but to defend his actions at an EGM, he would use the media and all the ammunition possible to do so.

"He repeated his earlier remarks that if he had not been constrained by board confidentiality, there were other things he could have told Members, which may have altered their present attitude. He said he would release as much information as possible."

Stewart was offered the possibility of avoiding a vote on his position, on the condition that he chose not to seek re-election at this year's BRDC Annual General Meeting, due to be held on May 26. But the Scot has subsequently informed the club that he intends to carry on in his position and will fight for his future at the EGM.

The requisition document said: "We pointed out to JYS that this was the last opportunity for him to stand down voluntarily and avoid an EGM, which would contain one single proposal, that he be removed from office as President and as a director of the company, and that no other choice was open to him."

The BRDC board must now decide whether there are grounds for an EGM to be held and then set a date, with sources claiming that they are currently split on the issue. If, as seems likely, an EGM is held, then it will almost certainly take place before the AGM.

Although the ousting of Bellm has been viewed as a key event in the current unhappiness at Stewart's position - and Stewart suggested on March 23 that he believed Bellm to be an instigator of the unrest - sources believe the matter is far more than just a personal clash between the two.

One source told Autosport-Atlas: "This is essentially an argument about the way the BRDC is managed."

It is understood that there is some unhappiness at the way Stewart uses advisors, liaises with government and has what has been referred to by one insider as a 'fat-management system'.

Certain factions within the BRDC are believed to favour a more entrepreneurial approach where the club is run more like a modern business.

Stewart was unavailable for comment.

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