March 06, 2009

The Vernon Report

Michael Nicholson's report, all one hundred and some pages, is now available. The pdf file of the report and a separate one with appendices can be downloaded from here. It is not a comfortable read!

Having speculated in this month's Scottish Curler on what it might contain I am now sitting down to read it in its entirety to see if any of my speculation was correct! Discussion is best directed to the Scottish Curling Forum.

The Royal Club Chairman Bob Tait has issued a statement on behalf of the Board (it follows below), as have Gail Munro and Lyndsay Wilson (also printed below). Derek Brown has apparently made a statement too, but for some reason this cannot be printed (see Tait below)!

Statement from Bob Tait:

"As advised on 6 February the Report by the Independent Investigator has been received and, as provided for in the remit for the investigation agreed by all of the parties, is available in full here. The report is long but to get a balanced view it needs to be read in its entirety. The Board apologise if some of the colourful language offends.

The Board is grateful to all 13 witnesses for their co-operation with the Investigation. The Report has been considered by the Board, which accepts it has responsibility to members to address any shortcomings.

First, the RCCC was not prepared as fully as it should have been to handle and respond to this unforeseeable set of circumstances. For this, as well as any consequent stress and strain caused to all parties, the Board apologise. The Board also apologise for the length of time it has taken to finalise this. The actions outlined below are intended to guard against any similar future incident although ultimately this depends on the conduct of players, coaches and support staff selected to represent our country.

The Board believes that events in Vernon provide further evidence that the National Coach should be an employee of the RCCC. Other sports have already made this change. We have advised sportscotland of this unanimous view and will be pursuing it as part of the post Olympic review in 2010. When the change is made, responsibilities, training and development and all conditions of service would be determined by the RCCC (in consultation with its partners) and the National Coach post-holder would be accountable to the CEO and through that post-holder to the Board.

Secondly the President now writes to every player and coach representing Scotland abroad wishing them well in the competition and reminding them about the standards expected of those who have the honour to represent our country. This will continue.

Thirdly the Board is also establishing groups to review Discipline and Performance.

The remit of the Discipline Group is to review the Ethics Manual and in particular the Disciplinary and Appeals Codes benchmarking against other sports. Clear short timescales for making and dealing with complaints must be set out; assess the desirability of involving outside professionals eg Sports Disputes in the processes; review the legal content of the players contract; and conduct some scenario testing to ensure the robustness of new procedures.

The membership of the group is Michael Wood (Independent Lawyer - Chairman), Russell Keillor, Edith Loudon, Lockhart Steele and Colin Grahamslaw (Secretary).

The remit of the Performance Group is:
review the process for deciding how the teams to represent Scotland are selected. (and any potential impact on the Scottish Championships a change could have); clarify the role and responsibility of the team coach / national coach and the interaction between the two, including responsibility for decision making and recording; consider the relationship between the national coach and the RCCC and the future performance structure; consider the principles to be included in the player’s contract; and define the role of the RCCC representative at Championships.

The membership of the group is Bob Tait (Chair), Robin Copland, Margaret Richardson, Irene Hird, Chris Robison (Policy Director of the SSA) and Colin Grahamslaw (Secretary).

The Board will prepare a Code of Conduct taking account of both Groups’ recommendations and this will be provided to each player, coach and support staff representing our country and will be available to members.

Finally since the report was received there have been exchanges and meetings with the parties and their representatives to seek a conclusion with minimal further delay, stress and cost and in the best interests of curling. Derek Brown, the National Coach, provided a written statement intended for use here unfortunately it cannot be made available here as the conditions attached to it cannot at present be met.

Consideration of complaints by Mr Brown against Mrs Munro and Mrs Wilson and by Mrs Munro against Mr Brown, and by a Royal Club member against Mrs Wilson were all suspended to await the report of the Independent Investigator. As provided in the agreed remit which set up the investigation the Board is now providing the Conduct Panel (Sheriff Richard Scott, Chair, Mrs Pam Mackay and Mr Ewan Malcolm) and the Responsible Officer (the Vice President of the Royal Club, Bill Marshall) with copies of the Report, appendices and witness statements, and have asked them to resume consideration of these complaints. The Board will review the position once these complaints have been determined. The Board remains willing to discuss how matters can be settled without recourse to further hearings, costs, stress and delay.

The Board is conscious that members share their concerns about costs and advise that the present estimated costs of £15,000 to the RCCC should be contained within this year without recourse to any subscriptions increases. As intimated elsewhere the Board has set unchanged subscriptions for 2009-10.

I will advise members of progress. Any comments or questions should be addressed to me via Cairnie House or at

Statement from Gail and Lyndsay:

"Gail Munro and Lyndsay Wilson welcome the long awaited publication of the Independent Investigator's report and although they feel disappointed that Michael Nicholson does not reach more definite conclusions, they feel that the report is sufficient to vindicate them both of the complaints made against them, namely that they refused to play. Whilst they are disappointed that the publication of the report has not led to a resolution of matters, they welcome the opportunity to resume the complaints with the Conduct Panel which supported their request to have the matter investigated, a promise by the RCCC to its members prior to the team's return from Vernon."

More from me later.


Timothy said...

So, will there really be any changes or will this get swept under the rug? Will blame actually be assessed or just extra laywers of bureaucracy???

If Gail, or any of her friends read this, I just hope she doesn't get a raw deal but a chance to explain her side of the story.

I never did like the idea of "nationalized" all the fun out of it.

Anonymous said...

Too many "coaches" trying to show THEY are in charge!!! Team, National, Olympic, who has the final say? We really are losing the plot with these super egos. Just watch the fiasco of olympic selection. scottish curling is doomed.