May 13, 2008

Vernon controversy: an update

Following the incidents in Vernon at the World Women's Curling Championship, the Royal Club promised, on its website (here), that 'A full investigation into the circumstances and actions that led to Scotland take the ice with three players at (the) Women's World Championships will take place when the team return next week. The investigation will be led by an independant (sic) lawyer who will advise the Board on any actions which should be taken.'

This enquiry, which I - and no doubt many other Royal Club members - thought was underway, is not happening, at least not in quite the way it was first suggested!

The Royal Club did appoint a lawyer, Frank Gill, of Anderson Strathern, to carry out the enquiry. I understood that his remit was to report to the Royal Club Board, as noted on the statement on the RCCC website, once he had carried out his investigation. I reported this in the Scottish Curler magazine.

Last Friday it was pointed out to me that my article in the May Scottish Curler was out of date and that Frank Gill is no longer conducting the promised independent enquiry, but is solely now looking at complaints which have been brought forward by National Coach Derek Brown against Gail Munro and Lyndsay Wilson, and by Munro and Wilson against Brown.

I could not believe that this was true, and sought reassurance from RCCC CEO Colin Grahamslaw that an investigation was still in progress. I did not receive any response from Colin. It would appear that he too is the subject of an official complaint, which means that he cannot comment on the matter. He would neither confirm nor deny this today.

Let's step back and try make sense of what's happening.

Matt Murdoch, the Royal Club's vice-president, is according to the Royal Club's procedures (a document called 'Policy and Procedures for Dealing with the Conduct of Participants') the person to whom complaints are directed in the first instance. Matt had a conflict of interest in that he is father to Nancy Murdoch, formerly the Royal Club's Performance Development Coach and now coach to the British Olympic women's squad.

The Board's decision then was to put the complaints in the hands of Frank Gill. His job now is to investigate these complaints to ascertain if there needs to be 'conduct panels' convened to look at the complaints. We all await his report on the matter, and whether the complaints will be taken further. Should that happen further procedures are all laid out in the document mentioned above.

So what happened to the 'independent investigation'? Board Chairman Mike Ferguson insisted when asked about this today that there will still be an enquiry, but dealing with the complaints is the priority.

"We are following the procedures as advised to us by our lawyers," he said.

I asked specifically, "Is an independent enquiry, as promised on the Royal Club website following the events in Vernon, being undertaken at the moment?"

"It's not being undertaken at the moment," said Ferguson, "but it will form part of the process. There will be a report submitted to the Board and the Board will then action against the content of that report."


"Both I and the Board fully accept the Membership's concerns and frustrations of the time procedures and processes are taking and we as a Board are doing everything we can to expedite it as quickly as we possibly can. We have to work within the timescales set out in the procedures and I can't unfortunately give a definitive timescale at this stage. We are keen to inform the membership when we are in position to do so."

So, there we are. Make of that what you will. It would seem that we all have to wait somewhat longer to get some explanations of what happened in Vernon, and if there are lessons to be learned. This story has a long way to run.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

So why not let Homer Simpson lead the investigation, might as well as this is all so comical now!!!