Sir, – It was with sorrow and a deep sense of foreboding that I learnt that George Milne had finally succumbed to the 'bully boy' tactics of a small handful of people who appear to be using the Scottish region of the National Sheep Association to further themselves at the expense of the greater sheep industry.

During the foot-and-mouth epidemic of 2001, as immediate past chairman of NSA Scotland, George was called on to attend meetings hosted by Scottish Government because the chairman at that time lived more than three hours from Edinburgh and these meetings were often called at very short notice, reflecting the rapid speed of the developing crisis.

Following on from the outbreak, it became clear that with devolution there was a real need for the Scottish sheep industry to have its own voice in the Scottish Parliament and George was the obvious choice. It was with immense pride, as one-time chairman of NSA Scotland, that I worked with George and quickly became aware of his strengths.

It was as a result of the respect he commanded for his knowledge of the sheep industry and his diplomatic and presentational skills, that important doors previously closed to us were opened. Due to the success George made of his role as development officer for the NSA here in Scotland, similar roles were then created for sheep farmers in Wales and Northern Ireland.

As time has gone by, chairmen have come and gone, but in the background a small core of people has developed who have found it impossible to let go of the power vested in them at successive NSA Sottish agms. This core has made life intolerable for George.

Consider the facts, three past occupiers of the chair have resigned from NSA Scotland's committee, while as of last week, three incumbent vice-chairmen have also found it impossible to go on in such circumstances, matters which seem to have been totally ignored by the staff or officers in Malvern.

With the uncertainties of Brexit and the real possibility of 5m lambs destined for France having a crippling tariff applied to them – along with the threat that the French might go back to opening and closing the doors on our lamb at will as they did in the 1960s and '70s – I would argue our sheep industry has never needed the counsel and experience that George has to offer more than we do now.

I find it unacceptable that at a time when he is needed most by the Scottish sheep industry, NSA has allowed the poor treatment of George, a senior member of its staff, to go unchecked to the extent that he has found his role untenable and that he’s had to follow the line of those officers who felt they had no option other than to resign.

To make matters worse at last week’s agm at Airth Castle when someone asked a perfectly sensible question over the amount of funds available in Scotland to see us through the next 18 months, the CEO interjected that while he was aware that funds were tight, inferred that NSA HQ would ensure the continuance of NSA in Scotland.

Was this not a green flag for the controlling few to continue to spend? Would it not have been more appropriate to let the question take its course and for the enquirer to have an answer? Thus, opening up the potential for protocols to be put in place that might just allow NSA Scotland to survive until Scotsheep 2020, a year and a half away.

With the Scottish sheep industry having arguably lost one of its most experienced and respected voices of reason and with the finances of NSA Scottish Region seemingly unable to continue to fund its work without support from south of the Border, I believe it is high time its problems at the centre is sorted.

Scotland needs a strong NSA and the Scottish sheep farmers will never forgive it if it fails to deal with its internal problems honestly and properly. We cannot have this shilly-shallying, with good people being forced out by bullies.

Hamish Waugh