While in the past I've often done rebellious things this is the first time I've been in the position of fighting industry when, if I win, they will lose millions (albeit of mostly fraudulent income).
I could walk away. Okay, the bad guys will win, people's lives will continue to be at risk for profit. But I'll have done everything I can - short of going to the press.
But then Steve said recently: "I don't want the bastards to win." I don't want them too, either. The trouble is, I'm facing two sets of bastards: industry and civil servants. If I walk away, will it be on my conscience? By which I mean, without me and Steve driving things, the whole project could easily collapse. Which means people will continue to die - and more fires and more injuries. So far, Steve and I have done everything we can to make this happen. It's caused me a massive amount of stress, and for my partner too.
On the continuing deaths, our lawyer at BIS once said, "It's only three deaths a year." (Actually, it could be quite a few more than that but still.) I asked her how she'd feel if one of the dead was her mother or husband. She didn't reply.
Do I care that it could cost UK industry a big drop in profits? No, not really. I used to, before I found out how many scams they've been running.
Do I care that it could destroy the reputation of XXXXX [big furniture retailer with a reputation for customer care]? No - because they've tried to stop the new match test going through when they know for certain that under the current test almost all their furniture is ignitable when their customers believe it isn't.
Do I care about BIS and what all this might do to my career? No. I feel mostly contempt for senior management in BIS. Despite their good education and excellent enunciation, they're small-minded hypocrites incapable of acting with passion, morality or care.
And I loathe the self-brainwashing that people do to allow them to abuse children or, in this case, sell products in which babies may burn and even if they don't are still breathing in huge amounts of toxic chemicals that seriously hamper their development.
Then there is James Surgeon [not his real name]. James and I had a connection on a personal and professional level. I used to phone him when he was at XXXXXXXXXXX [leading test house] for advice. About five years ago, I invited him to Warsaw to speak to Polish furniture manufacturers, where he did a brilliant talk on the testing regime of the Furniture Regs and, completely impromptu (since the organisers had messed up the schedule), a talk on the history of furniture too. We bonded over meals and drinks. I bought his book, all about his father's role in the war. We shared information over the 2010 test cover fabric cock-up, that helped everyone come to a workable solution. At a very short stretch, I'd call him a friend.
But here's what happened:
James turned up at BIS to discuss the meeting we were to have with the FPA/FSF later that day (in a House of Commons meeting room with Sir Ken Knight chairing) with me, Steve, Barbara and John. But it soon became apparent that he hadn't bothered to even read our technical paper, which of course provides the foundation and justification for the new match test. Considering his following actions, it's quite possible this was not just laziness but a deliberate move, i.e. to not learn the truth. Indeed, it was clear at the meeting later that few if any of the FPA and its friends had read it either (and probably for the same reason).
At the meeting, James didn't say a word, even though we'd invited him along as an independent expert, his brief being to assess all the evidence and present an unbiased view. Well, as said, he hadn't even read the paper . . . Afterwards, he told us that he'd felt out of his depth. Really? This is someone with far more testing experience than anyone on the FPA side.
A few days later, James sent Barbara an email which first tried to rubbish Steve then went on in a thinly disguised attempt to get testing work from BIS. Barbara didn't of course see this until I pointed it out - because she'd decided that James was 'nice'. Yes he is, Barbara; up to a point.
Essentially, he sold out the bonding, the mutual respect, the friendship, not to mention the public, just for the chance of bit of extra business. And kept quiet in front of a raft of FR-loving people who might also give him some work, I suppose, or at least make it difficult to get any if he'd said the wrong thing.
Okay, then. On we go.