August 07, 2008

Vernon investigation underway

New Royal Caledonian Curling Club Chairman Bob Tait has today issued a statement (which can be downloaded here) which indicates his commitment to solving the issues which have hung over Scottish curling since March. At the Ford World Women's Curling Championship in Vernon, the Scottish team played the last two round robin games with just three players, in the face of media reports that a member of the squad had refused to play for the team. An independent investigation was promised in a statement posted on the RCCC website on March 29 (here).

This independent investigation has not taken place. In the months since Vernon, little or no information about what has been happening has emerged from Cairnie House, the excuse being that formal complaints had been made, and that disciplinary procedures were in train. A Conduct Panel was convened, but its recommendations have not been made public.

There appeared to be a complete disregard for members' concerns that the matter would be investigated, and lessons learned. The lack of information, the failure to keep the membership informed, and the passage of time with no apparent action, led me to post my own frustrations here.

One member, Michael Barron from Inverurie, has gone so far as to file a formal complaint against Lyndsay Wilson, as recently as last month, presumably in the light of the RCCC's apparent failure to act.

But things have changed with the appointment of Bob Tait as the new Board Chairman. He has been able to reach agreement with the main parties involved to allow an investigation to go ahead. Vice President Bill Marshall is now the Responsible Officer under the Ethics Manual and is responsible for Barron's complaint and will advise Mr Barron that he will await the report from the investigation before further considering that complaint.

Michael Nicholson of Harper Macleod, Solicitors, in Glasgow, has been appointed to carry out the investigation. His report is to be complete by September 5, in time for the RCCC Board meeting on September 12. An update to members is promised thereafter.

Why has this happened now? When the Conduct Panel was convened Gail Munro and Lyndsay Wilson made the suggestion that they would suspend their complaints against Derek Brown, the National Coach, if an investigation into all aspects of what occurred in Vernon was undertaken. The Royal Club Board has decided that this is the way to proceed!

So, what's the remit of the investigation? It says:

To conduct an investigation into the events that resulted in the Scottish team at the Ford World Women’s Curling Championships at Vernon in March 2008 playing 2 games with 3 players, and the events in Vernon following each of these games.

To provide to the Chairman of the Board of the RCCC a written report on the facts found by the Investigator and to make recommendations on actions, if any, to be taken. The Investigator will not recommend specific disciplinary sanctions. The report will be sent to the Chairman of the Board of the RCCC by 5th September. The report will also be circulated by the Investigator to all Scottish team players at the event, the National Coach, the Team Coach, Support staff and the RCCC representative at the event. The report will also be placed on the RCCC website no earlier than 48 hours after it was sent to the parties.

The RCCC shall appoint the Investigator who shall be a lawyer. The RCCC shall meet the Investigator’s costs.

The Investigator will be provided with a brief summary about the event prepared by RCCC (e.g. how the team qualified to represent their country, coaches etc), copies of the complaints made by Mr Brown and Mrs Munro and a member of the RCCC, copies of the response to these complaints and any correspondence regarding the complaints and responses; copies of the contracts signed by the team, a list of contact addresses for the RCCC party, a copy of the RCCC Ethics manual and all rules and regulations of RCCC (including the Memorandum and Articles of Association and Bye Laws of RCCC), copies of comments about the events from third parties and as reported in the Press, copies of the statements on the RCCC web and, if available, a copy of Mr Brown’s Press interview.

The Investigator will invite statements from, and may invite to interview, all Scottish team players at the event, the National Coach, the Team Coach, Support staff and the RCCC representative. He/she may also invite statements from supporters and others he/she considers may assist his investigation.

The parties agree that the disciplinary proceedings against Mrs Wilson, Mrs Munro and Mr Brown will be suspended during the investigation.

Any of the parties who choose to incur costs shall be responsible for these costs with no liability passing to the RCCC under any circumstances.

The parties accept that the Investigator’s report shall be admissible as evidence at any proceedings that may follow. The report is not binding on any individual or panel hearing these proceedings.

The parties agree that this note shall be placed on the RCCC web and shall be sent to the Chair of the Ladies Standing Committee, Area, Province and Club Secretaries and that otherwise there shall be no communication of any kind (written, oral, electronic) with the media or parties not party to this note before the Investigator’s Report is published."

It is good to see that Bob Tait has given his email address in his announcement today, so that members with concerns may write directly to him.

So, given the proviso of the last paragraph, I suspect there will be nothing more for me to write about until September, on this subject at least!

The photo of the Scotland team at Vernon is by Hugh Stewart. L-R: Lynn Cameron, Anne Laird, Karen Addison, Lyndsay Wilson and Gail Munro.

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