Can of worms
And so the Alan Hedges case has reached a conclusion. Or has it? By expelling him and making him a martyr as an appointed sub-committee has just done, the KC Board has opened an even bigger can of worms. This leads to even more questions being asked as has occurred in earlier correspondence to Our Dogs.
Apart from the Facebook page on bad judges, nothing more has been suggested on how Mr Hedges has offended. Why have such details not been published? Why has a sub-committee apparently been given the authority to expel Mr Hedges without their recommendation going the full Board for ratification? Why does such power seem to lie with the Board alone without the KC membership having a voice? More embarrassing questions than answers for the KC Board, it seems.
Previously in these pages I pointed out the difficult or even impossible position the KC Chairman finds himself in. By allowing such a minor matter to escalate to serious undoubted damage to the KC, he would seem to be, in my opinion, totally impotent. As I alluded before he became Chairman in unprecedented circumstances when Professor Dean was ousted. Did the present Chairman lead the revolution or was he the puppet of the faction leading it? Unless he can take control speedily he will soon be dead in the water.
And what of Mr Hedges? He has simply put his Facebook page on bad judges back up and the KC Board has achieved only self-inflicted wounds and is now totally powerless! He can now thumb his nose at the Board with impunity!
THE KENNEL Club has brought itself into disrepute by removing Mr Alan Hedges from membership of the Kennel Club.
We have been informed that the same small group of people acted as complainant, investigating officers, prosecutors and judges. This is so unfair and so obviously against natural justice that it is difficult to believe that an organisation would so behave.
Over a number of years I have been asked to complete a few surveys about membership and have always taken the effort to explain that the Kennel Club needs to come up to date with a democratic approach so that the people who pay to attend Kennel Club licenced activities feel that they are being treated fairly.
It is patently unfair that Mr Hedges has been treated in this manner.
Recent turmoil and political unrest across the world - e.g. Brexit, Trump election - have been interpreted as an upsurge of 'people power' partly due to alienation from ruling elites. This tension between the people and their perceived 'out of touch' rulers has now reached the genteel world of dog showing.
The spark that ignited the firestorm in the canine world was the 2016 Kennel Club AGM at which the agreement - to allow FCI judges to officiate in the UK without filling in the same compulsory forms as UK judges - was over-turned. The people's spokesperson, Mr Alan Hedges, a member of the Kennel Club, championship show judge and publisher, rallied UK dog lovers to another unexpected victory for the people. And that should have been that.
Shortly after the AGM, Mr Hedges received a letter from the Kennel Club about a website he helped set up 'Bad Judges & Bad Practice' a discussion forum for judging at dog shows. The Kennel Club claimed the site was "not appropriate and disrespectful of judges" and felt that it was "not considered to be in the interests of the Kennel Club". Mr Hedges therefore took the site offline. And that should have been that.
What then ensued, was what the KC described as a 'non-disciplinary' meeting between Mr Hedges and a sub-committee at the Kennel Club, although surprisingly, only members of the KC disciplinary committee were in attendance. Subsequently Mr Hedges was asked to resign from the Kennel Club, but refused as he considers he has done nothing wrong or at worse has a difference of opinion with the KC about the ethical value of a website highlighting bad judging practices at dog shows. On 17th March 2017, Mr Hedges was summoned to the KC and expelled.
It could be argued that the expulsion of Mr Hedges is not connected to the vote at the 2016 AGM and that these two issues are merely coincidental. This view has little traction with neutral observers because the KC's response is so totally disproportionate compared to the perceived crime. A vindictive sledge-hammer to crack a very small nut. Because there have been so few occasions, in the history of the Kennel Club (started 1873), when members have been expelled, the obvious interpretation in this case is that the KC are motivated by revenge and an inability to embrace the democratic process.
The wider issue at stake for the KC is the role that major institutions play in our lives, how they are managed, regulated, governed and in particular how people actively participate in open debate and decision making. The rise of 'people power' reflects how disenfranchised people feel from institutions because their views are increasingly disregarded. The KC may have an important role to play in the future of canine activities but they ignore the views and participation of average dog owners at their peril.
The ultimate irony in this case is that the Kennel Club's own behaviour is widely perceived as inappropriate, disrespectful and not to be in the interests of the Kennel Club. Sound familiar?
Professor Robert Scotland
A concerned dog lover, Oxford
On Saturday 25 February, I had the pleasure of competing in the 10th Anniversary contest for the title of Welsh Junior of the Year, showcasing some of the best young dogs resident in Wales. I have attended and enjoyed competing on a number of occasions since its inception and this year, I feel the organisers Martin and Carol Sanders and their team surpassed themselves. A welcome hot drink and biscuits were on offer on arrival, all the usual gifts, special rosettes and goodies were given to all exhibitors. In addition, to mark the occasion of its 10th birthday, commemorative badges were also given out and a celebratory drink and cake were enjoyed by all before the big finale. A grateful thank you, comes from me, to all those involved in making this prestigious event happen.
Elaine D Williams
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