The board of the Walt Disney Company stands accused of "serving as a bulwark to shield management from criticism and accountability" and trying to "squelch dissent".

The accuser is Stanley Gold, a Disney director of long standing and investment advisor to Roy E Disney -- the founder's nephew who quit the board last weekend amid acrimony and criticism of chief executive Michael Eisner [WAMN: 01-Dec-03].

Gold, like his pal Roy, called for Eisner's head, asserting he is "not up to the challenge" of resuscitating the group following seven years of "dismal results". In addition to his former seat on the Disney board, Gold also runs Shamrock Holdings, an investment vehicle for the Disney dynasty, familial inheritors of a substantial stake in the entertainment corporation.

Criticising the group's "poor performance, lack of credibility and accountability and poor capital allocation", Gold claimed his attempts to instigate a review had been opposed by management and rejected by the board.

His letter of resignation, liberally laced with bile, came in the form of a press release. Gold warned he will continue trying to reshape company policies from outside the group and slammed his former boardroom colleagues for continuing to act as a "rubber stamp" for management decisions.

His colleagues saw it differently. Gold's charges were "untrue and unwarranted", read a statement issued by Disney's independent board members. "As he has done repeatedly in the past, Mr Gold in his letter persists in characterising the board's failure to agree with him as failure to consider the issues he has raised."

The rebuttal also accused Gold and Roy Disney of taking "their current destructive course of action" because the other directors had rejected their main recommendation: the firing of Michael Eisner.

Data sourced from: Financial Times; additional content by WARC staff