Pictured above is Steven J. Solomon - although many have come across him using the name Jack Sheridan, Jack Lasiter (spelling his forename also variously as Jac, Jak or Jakk), or even, nowadays, Jack Goldeagle and this article is designed to set the record straight for those who may come into contact with him through either cerealogy or ufology. It is basically my own witness statement to the Norwich County Court in January 2003 (document references, for example, have been deleted), when the Norfolk UFO Society was forced to take legal action to recover funds and property from Mr. Solomon. Without even attempting to defend NUFOS' claim against him, he chose instead to level false charges against me personally in the form of a libellous 'counterclaim' (which was, of course, summarily dismissed by the judge). Publishing this exposé would not be necessary if Mr. Solomon didn't persist in misrepresenting facts and individuals. Should you have any dealings with him, under whatever name he uses, you are advised to take note of the facts presented here - and take anything he says with a very large pinch of salt:
It should be noted that Mr. Solomon sometimes uses the terms "AEM" (Anglia Earth Mysteries) and "NUFOS" (the Norfolk UFO Society) interchangeably and sometimes separately. He has also used variations on "Norfolk UFO Society", such as "Norfolk (UK) UFO Group" and "Norwich UFO Group".
The name of the Norfolk UFO Society has never, since its inception, been changed. A copy of our Constitution has always been lodged with the HSBC bank, London Street, Norwich. (An amendment was approved by the NUFOS meeting of 4th. November 2002 and lodged with the HSBC on 5th. November 2002, primarily to include a clause designed to prevent a recurrence by anyone of Mr. Solomon's recent attempt to appropriate the Society's funds and assets for himself.)
Contrary to what he has been known to otherwise claim, the reason Mr. Solomon agreed to take on the post of Chairman of NUFOS in January 1999 was simply that health problems prevented Kevin Short's continuation as Chair of NUFOS Meetings.
That something was amiss with the management of NUFOS first became apparent at the AGM of 2001: there was no agenda, no reports from the Chairman, Treasurer or Secretary (in fact, we only then realised there was no Secretary), no financial report and no elections proposed for the coming year - i.e. all the normal items one would expect at an Annual General Meeting of a constituted Society. Also disconcerting was when Mr. Solomon revealed that he had been taking money "now and then" from our funds to reward himself for his work as Chairman. It was pointed out to him that this was not permissible, but he insisted that he had the right, supported by his girlfriend Sharon Bygrave (the "Treasurer" - see below) and their lodger, Danny Goss.
Following a discussion of this admission, on which there were divided opinions, it was generally agreed that we could, in the future, consider any requests from the Chairman for "special payments", but that no formal decision could be made at this meeting. However, Mr. Solomon did, in fact, continue to withdraw money for himself, as we have since learned from the written accounts kept by Sharon Bygrave.
Although no accounts appear to have been kept between October 2000 and May 2001, by either Karl Wildey, the previous Treasurer, or Sharon Bygrave, examination of accounts kept by the former show that between November 1999 and August 2000 Mr. Solomon also received from petty cash at least £215.00, ostensibly for "telephone calls", "computer printer ink" and "Jak's funds". Although NUFOS possessed a mobile phone specifically for administrative use, Mr. Solomon claimed a further £50.00 in 2001 "for speakers - 2002".
At the close of our meeting (a talk given by "Arthur Pendragon") in the White Horse public house in Trowse Newton, Norwich on 18th. February 2002, Mr. Solomon announced that he wished to take over the group as a private enterprise, retaining all our funds and assets for himself - or resign as Chairman. A heated discussion ensued, the outcome of which was the agreement that Mr. Solomon would write to all members on our contact list, giving fourteen days' notice of a Special Meeting to propose his motions. During the discussion, Sharon Bygrave dumped her account book and the cash box in my lap. Later, she and Mr. Solomon wanted to take them back but I suggested they be looked after by someone else till the Special Meeting. Ann Andrews agreed to hold onto the cash box and Pat Shepherd the key, and I posted the accounts book by Recorded Delivery to Sharon Bygrave the next day.
In the event, no one had any way of knowing who the written notice was actually sent to, since Mr. Solomon kept our contact list partly on the Internet, to which only he had access, partly on the NUFOS mobile phone which he kept in his possession, and partly on paper, which he also kept to himself. (He has still not surrendered this contact list.) Although it was agreed at the meeting of 18th. February that he provide us with a list of recipients of the letter, this was never forthcoming. (It appears that only a handful of people out of something in the region of eighty actually received this notification.) Mr. Solomon also unilaterally issued an "Absentee Ballot Form", with proposals different to those contained in the notification letter. We also have no way of knowing who actually received this but in the event none was produced at the Special Meeting anyway.
In his letter of notification of the Special Meeting (containing as it did false information about finances), Mr. Solomon proposed "(A) the current chairman continues the group as a private organisation (B) the current chairman resigns & leaves the group, allowing the remaining members to select a new chairman & run the group however they may see fit" - adding, "If things go against us & it is decided that the membership wishes to continue as a 'club', retaining a collective kitty etc., then of course Sharon & myself will both resign immediately as treasurer & chairman respectively".
It should be noted that Sharon Bygrave had never actually been elected Treasurer but had apparently taken over the role by informal agreement between herself, Mr. Solomon and the then Treasurer, Karl Wildey: "...not sure of the date, but think it was the sumertime [sic]. Sharon took over from me, as an agreement beween [sic] me, jac and sharon...Accounts kept in large green book, passed to Sharon. This held the running total in bank, I used to run the accounts in a pretty [sic] cash sort of way from the green plastic money box...".
Karl Wildey's uncertainty notwithstanding, the accounts show that his last entries regarding the NUFOS bank balance and petty cash were made on 21st. September 2000 and 4th. October 2000 respectively.
At some point before Mr. Solomon announced his plan to "privatise" NUFOS, Sharon Bygrave opened her own Barclays bank account, which was inaccessible to anyone else, into which she deposited part of our funds. Since assuming the role of Treasurer she had not made any deposits into the NUFOS bank account - presumably because she was never a signatory to it - but had kept all funds at home in the form of cash. (In fact at one point she temporarily "lost" all the cash: it transpired that she had left it in the car of her friend Kathi Ritchie, who had given her a lift home after a meeting.)
Karl Wildey's last entry as Treasurer in the "green book" mentioned above reads, "Statement (added interest) £98.78". Sharon Bygrave's first entry in her own accounts notes that at the end of May 2001, "£98.00" was in the NUFOS account. On 28th. August 2001 £98.90 was removed from the NUFOS account - leaving a balance of only 16p. This £98.90 was apparently deposited along with a further £199.10 into Sharon Bygrave's own Barclays bank account towards the end of August 2001, creating the balance of £298.00 mentioned in her accounts.
We have now obtained from HSBC a copy of cheque #100049 for £98.90. It was apparently written out by Sharon Bygrave herself, made payable to her own Barclays account, and signed by Karl Wildey (the ex-Treasurer) and Mr. Solomon.
The Special Meeting to discuss Mr. Solomon's proposals was held at the White Horse on 11th. March 2002. It was pointed out at the start of the meeting that our Constitution did not allow anyone to appropriate our funds and assets: since for some time no membership fees had been collected, all monies taken at meetings were therefore "donations", which, according to our Constitution, were to be used "solely to Promote the Aims of the Society".
This was agreed by the meeting - as was the consequent redundancy of Mr. Solomon's proposal to privatise NUFOS for himself. It was further agreed that Mr. Solomon should surrender all funds and assets immediately and that the cash and cheque (duly written out there and then by Sharon Bygrave) would be entrusted to Ann and Paul Andrews to deposit in the NUFOS bank account the following day.
It was also proposed by Maddy Smith and agreed by the meeting that, as an "honorarium" to the outgoing Chairman "in respect of his work and effort over the last three years", we would donate to Mr. Solomon a television set and video-recorder he had requested with which he wanted to start up his own private enterprise (to be probably known as "Anglia Earth Mysteries"), and (contrary to Mr. Solomon's assertion that "John Sayer seized our title, funds and assets") I myself further proposed that we also donate to Mr. Solomon our P. A. system, microphone, slide-projector and projector-screen.
The voting result on all of the above was 16 in favour, 1 abstention and 0 against. A written record of the outcome of the meeting was duly drawn up and signed by Steve Pank, who had chaired the meeting, and witnessed by Andy Coleman, proprietor of the White Horse.
From those who remained behind after the meeting an Interim Committee for NUFOS was formed, comprising Mick Hardy: Chairman, Steve Pank: Secretary and myself: Treasurer. This was formalised on the Banker's Mandate at the HSBC bank, London Street, Norwich and ratified at the next NUFOS meeting. (Steve Pank has since stood down as Secretary and been replaced by Ann Andrews.)
However, subsequent to the 11th. March Special Meeting, Mr. Solomon continued to resist surrendering our contact list and the balance of our property, refused all forms of communication from us and eventually wrote to NUFOS to say that he considered the agreement we had reached to be "invalid" anyway and that we were "back to the table with everything in the middle again".
He also sent out a misleading e-mail to those on our e-mail contact list in which he claimed, "...as of 11th. March a vote was taken in which it was decided that AEM would be run by me on a private basis". The vote was actually that he could not run NUFOS on a private basis: for him to run his own commercial enterprise promoting public events using the name "Anglia Earth Mysteries" was certainly not something that the Special Meeting voted on.
Although we were able to retrieve what we knew to exist of our book and video library from the White Horse pub where they had been left, Mr. Solomon declines to acknowledge exactly which titles we possessed. He claims possession of certain video tapes - although we have verified from the vendor (the Southampton UFO Group) that these are, indeed, the titles purchased from our funds. Moreover, we are informed by Mr. Solomon that he has provided us with only copies of the tapes in question.
Mr. Solomon has not returned the T.V. and video-recorder referred to in our letter to him of 30th. April 2002, nor has he surrendered our contact list. Although some old case files were returned via a third party on 27th. May 2002, none from during Mr. Solomon's time as Chairman, and to which he made frequent reference, appears to have been surrendered.
Dealing with the court case was made especially difficult by Mr. Solomon's catalogue of lies and false allegations, clearly designed to deflect attention away from the real issue at hand while he focused instead on his libellous counterclaim, in which he accused someone else of what he was actually guilty of. (This seems to be a common trait with all manner of hoaxers and the croppy community has not been short of a few characters like this over the years.) Facts and evidence, however, speak for themselves. The truth will always out.
It seems to go with the territory that UFO and other such groups are plagued with people who behave like Mr. Solomon. Many of them fold up under the continuous stress and pressure of dealing with this kind of problem, but it is hoped that the outcome of this matter will serve as encouragement to others who experience similar difficulties to stand their ground and protect their integrity.
(NUFOS' claim was upheld and an amount of money awarded.) Further background details
Return to LIBRA
Return to CONTENTS