The founder of the Hands Off HRI campaign has been locked out of the group’s bank account by his rivals.
Karl Deitch, who is credited with starting the Facebook group that sparked the movement to save Huddersfield Royal Infimary from cuts, has found he can no longer access the £40,000 funds raised to pay for the legal challenge.
Mr Deitch was notified by email that he had been removed as a signatory to the Barclay’s account where all the money is held.
The move was made by the splinter group, now operating as Official Hands Off HRI, who had two signatories and thus able to make account changes.
The group has released a statement re-assuring the public their money is safe.
The huge campaign has been split by a row over politics and national NHS campaigning.
Key members including Natalie Ratcliffe, Cristina George and Mike Forster have all parted ways with Mr Deitch’s group but still claim to be ‘Hands Off HRI’.
A key part of their argument is that Mrs Ratcliffe controls a limited company that is linked to the bank account and HMRC.
This evening, Mr Deitch’s ‘Hands Off HRI original’ group have released a statement saying they were “looking into the legalities” of shutting him out of the bank account and the group’s PayPal account.
Posting on the original Let’s Save Huddersfield A&E Facebook page, Mr Deitch said he was “disgusted”.
He added: “This only makes me want to fight harder for what I believe in and that’s saving our hospital and services. I will never stop.”
Campaign secretary, Nicola Jowett, said: “The steering committee are understandably upset and angered by these events.
“They have all been done behind closed doors by the self-proclaimed ‘activist group’ – who are acting under ‘Official Hands Off HRI’ – with no mandate from the community they claim to represent.”
She added: “This is merely an attempt to take over a campaign that is controlled by the community. We like you are ordinary folk who put our trust in others who we thought had the same goals as us.
“Unfortunately we have learned the hard way that some people are in it for the wrong reasons.”
Mrs Ratcliffe has also released a statement in a bid to re-assure people that the money is safe.
She said: “All money raised is going towards our legal challenge with the CCG.
“All monies paid out of our account have gone towards paying Irwin Mitchell and nothing else.
“The accounts as previously stated will be adopted at our general meeting.
“There will be the opportunity to look at and ask questions about the accounts at this meeting.
“We believe in democracy and transparency.
“All monies paid in since January 2017 have all been raised by this group. We have not received anything from any other group.
“All money from the PayPal account has been transferred into the main account to pay Irwin Mitchell.
“We have simply removed a signatory from the account.
“The person removed has said publicly that he wants nothing to do with our group or what we stand for.
“The account is linked to HMRC and the limited company.”
Yogi Amin, head of public law at Irwin Mitchell said: “This is a highly emotive issue and some people will inevitably have different views on what they think they should do to help, but we are focused on assisting the local group with achieving its aim of saving the local A&E department and hospital services.
"Anyone contributing to the fundraising should be reassured that their money will go towards achieving this stated aim.
"We hope to meet the group shortly and confirm clear steps to progress the case.”