David Levy : March 12th 2017
Darren Melbourne recently posted a call to action against RCL using his Facebook account. Whilst giving directions for backers of the Vega+ advice on how to post on the BBC “Watchdog” web site about the campaign.
He subsequently took to another forum with the header “Darren Melbourne ► Retro Computers Ltd Vega Plus (Democracy !)”.
In that post he contradicts his earlier statement and writes:
“. . . I would like nothing more than for RCL to deliver on their promises and deliver the VEGA+! No naysaying, no negativity, no clever hidden agenda just a positive endorsement! I’ve believed in the concept since the very beginning and would like nothing more than to see it bought [sic] successfully to fruition!”
Naturally, we at Retro Computers Ltd welcome positive endorsements, especially having such support amid so much targeted negativity from certain factions right now. So, on the surface, we should welcome what Mr Melbourne says. But sadly, whilst coming across as though he is on our side, the history of his influence on both our company and the Vega+ project, appears to us is seemingly far from positive.
The root cause of the much publicised dispute between our company and its former Directors, Paul Andrews and Chris Smith, can be traced back to Mr Melbourne himself.
Mr Melbourne has long had an enthusiasm for, and commercial interest in, the Commodore 64 computer. He’s also the sole Director of a company with a strikingly similar name to our own – Retro Games Ltd, incorporated on August 24th 2015. Retro Games Ltd has four equal shareholders: Darren Melbourne, Paul Andrews, Chris Smith and Paul Gouge (a close associate of Mr Melbourne’s). Mr Andrews, Mr Smith and Mr Gouge were also Directors previously, but they all resigned.
Retro Games Ltd launched an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign in 2016 to raise money for the development and manufacture of “The 64”, a retro version of the Commodore 64 . I had been led to believe that this project would be developed by Retro Computers Limited working in collaboration with Mr Melbourne, but on March 18th last year, we learned the project was to be run without two of the key shareholders - and without the Directors of Retro Computers Ltd (myself and Sinclair Research Ltd). It was that discovery which started the dispute which has since escalated horribly into the Courts and into the public arena. It was allegedly Mr Melbourne’s decision that neither I nor Sir Clive Sinclair would have any involvement in the project.
Shortly after the dispute escalated and lawyers became involved, Sir Clive was convalescing at the home of a friend in Yorkshire, having recently left hospital following a two month stay there. One day Mr Melbourne arrived at that Yorkshire address – uninvited - Sir Clive was being helped out of a car. When Mr Melbourne made himself known, he was asked to leave, which he did.
As time went on, and after Mr Andrews and Mr Smith had resigned as Directors of Retro Computers Ltd, Mr Melbourne made contact with some of the other Directors - and with our company’s then lawyers. It appeared that he was purposely attempting to cause our company damage by his actions. He claimed, falsely, that our company was attempting to deprive games rights owners of their royalties for the use of their games in the Vega, and that our company was also depriving our chosen charity, Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity, of the donations we announced we’d be making to their cause.
In the course of correspondence between Mr Melbourne and our then lawyers, he wrote (on October 1st 2016) :“I’ve been in the games industry for over thirty years and I personally know at least three quarters of all of the rights holders of games on the Vega. I will write to each rights holder encouraging them to approach RCL [Retro Computers Ltd] for the royalties that are owed in respect of their titles. I will also encourage them to withdraw permission for their games to be used on the Vega." Mr Melbourne then went further. He contacted the Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity (GOSH) numerous times in an effort to show Retro Computers in a very bad light. To what gain for anyone?
What Mr Melbourne could not have known was that, just at the time he started doing this, GOSH had written to us thanking Retro Computers Ltd for bringing our donations to the charity up to £20,000, inviting us to visit the hospital to be shown around so that we could see for ourselves what wonderful work they are able to do there for very sick children. But on the day of our visit we were told that staff at the charity were being inundated by phone calls from Mr Melbourne, each a negative nature about our company. Again, to what gain for anyone who cared deeply about this charity?
You must reach your own conclusions about Darren Melbourne’s behaviour towards us - but we greatly believe in the old adage actions always speak louder than words.
[Chairman – Retro Computers Ltd]