Lawrie & Symington


People don’t want to hear the truth because they don’t want their illusions destroyed -F. Nietzche

An inconvenient truth that  completely unwarranted scurrilous action by a group of self interested individuals managed to persuade a substantial number of shareholders that it was necessary to force the resignation of the entire Board of Lawrie & Symington. The Elliot family was connected with the creation of the Lanarkshire auctioneering company  from the initial formation of the company for the next one hundred years. However it became evident that there was a divergence of objective when it became apparent that a group of individuals wished to prevent the board of directors from making initiatives to offset the advancing obsolescence of livestock markets being located in major town centres. The objective of the Elliot family Trust was to maintain a profitable economically viable company addressing the issues of the day for the farming community whilst the self serving group who created an  ‘Action Committee’  whipped up a campaign based on lies , rumours and deceit which convinced the large number of small shareholders whose only motive was to maintain a cheap, low commissioned service that their market was under threat from hostile forces in the search for profit. Nothing could have been further from the truth.

This iniquitous campaign based on lies rumours and innuendo from scurrilous individuals seeking personal gain was successful in destroying a family company that had preserved the integrity and culture of a vital part of the Scottish rural community. The net result was that the new investment programme was destroyed losing millions of pounds allocated to relocation and refurbishment , a possible amalgamation with John Swan PLc. and the loss of the most qualified and enlightened Board of directors ever. On achieving success  the new company directors with no previous experience succeeded in removing all previous directors who included , two qualified Chartered accountants, One lawyer and MBA, two Nuffield Scholars, Two members of the Association of the Royal Agricultural Society and the Chairman of the Lothians National Health Board. This distinguished group of individuals also  owned and managed over 50,000 acres of farm land with a combined directorial history of over 200 years. The question remains why would a supposedly intelligent group of shareholders wish to commit to a new board with no prior experience that the newly elected Chairman himself admitted he had no desire to  Chair.

Presumably the overiding emotion was fear, there was no point in Andrew Lubbock making financial gain as his Trust owned 35 % and any profits would accrue according to ownership, and as a non executive director was unable to make any decision unless approved by the board. The innuendo induced by the campaigners was patently absurd and there is no evidence to suggest otherwise.

” My horror regarding the way shareholders were deceived makes me wonder how was it possible that they got away with it” . The net result was a huge loss to the company in terms of personnel, unquestionably the best and most intelligent  young entreprenuers to the agricultural economy were evicted by old fashioned bigotry. Shining lights of young auctioneers were lost to the industry.

” They don’t know what they want, but they won’t be happy till they get it “, such an appropriate remark from  one of the Directors  at the time. Unresearched and innacurate newspaper articles assured the unfortunately misdirected shareholders that there was a cause celebre.

Net Result

  1. Entire Board with joint accumulated professional years in excess of hundreds of years replaced by a self seeking group of persons with aspirations take over .
  2. Loss of the most qualified board ever.
  3. New Chairman that did not wish election is elected on basis of lies and innuendo.
  4. Accountants ‘Ernst & Young’ immediately resign.
  5. Lawyers ‘Dundas & Wilson’/ Turcan Connell resign.
  6. Financial Director let go.
  7. ‘Company Secretary’ let go.
  8. The Managing Director is ‘Let Go’ !
  9. Best auctioneers let go.
  10. The proposed re-structuring and refurbishment opportunity missed.

Subsequently after the most experienced Board since the creation of the company was replaced with a board of directors with no previous experience whatsoever the financial reporting systems had to be scrapped as they were deemed too complicated. The Board decided to fund the loss making core auctioneering business by selling off the company assets and the Elliot of Harwood Trust as owners of 35% reluctantly decided that by appointing a Board with no experience, with a dubious agenda was not a recipe for the continued survival of the company. The amalgamation with John Swan Plc was not undertaken and they merged with another auctioneering firm.


An inconvenient truth the self styled “Action Committee” supported by two self- important Peers of the Realm gave credence to a pernicious , rumour mongering, self serving libellous and despiccable group using poison pen letters and anonymous telephone calls to further their bizarre obscure objectives . The question remains ‘ as they don’t know what they want but they won’t be happy till they get it ‘ did they ??