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(Updated 25/02/01)

Verbal Abuse Case Dismissed

Car park spat was of a 'personal nature'

A KENNEL Club Disciplinary Sub Committee convened in Edinburgh last week to hear a Rule A42 complaint brought my Mrs Margaret Marshall of Carstairs, Lanarks, against fellow Dobermann exhibitors Mr A & Mrs H Watson of Balerno, Midlothian.

It was alleged that Mr A & Mrs H Watson behaved discreditably or prejudicially to the interests of the canine world in that “on the 20th August 2000 at approximately 12 noon - 1.00 p.m. at the Ice Rink, Kirkcaldy during an Open show held by the Fife Kennel Association, they approached Mrs M Marshall shouting and swearing verbal abuse at her because her Dobermann had just beaten their Dobermann for best of breed. A statement issued by the committee after the hearing says:-

The Committee, having carefully considered the evidence presented in this case, rules that the complaint is not upheld. The Committee accepts that an incident occurred and it is on Mr Watson’s own admission that he swore; however the Committee felt that this was of a personal nature between the two parties and did not constitute behaviour discreditable or prejudicial to the interests of the canine world.

The Committee noted conflicting evidence from some of the witnesses and discounted the evidence of two witnesses who did not actually witness or hear the incident.


The joint written statement of two of the witnesses was discounted as it differed from that of all other witnesses as to the timing of the incident. On questioning these two witnesses, they failed to agree with each other on the sequence of events or their relative positions at the time. Another witness, who was not present to question, stated in her written evidence that Mr Watson swore but did not state that Mrs Watson swore.

The last two witnesses were consistent in their statement about Mr Watson swearing but each of them gave totally different statements regarding Mrs Watson’s alleged swearing.

From the evidence, the Committee was satisfied that Mr Watson’s comments were audible only to the persons standing beside Mr Watson and Mrs Marshall. There was evidence from two witnesses in close proximity who heard nothing, although one of these was close enough to notice the change in Mrs Marshall’s facial expression.

The Committee did no accept that the approach o Mr Watson was aggressive as was suggested by the witnesses. On questioning by the Committee, it was established that Mr Watson made a gesture other than to lean forward to speak to Mrs Marshall; in particular, it was agreed on both sides that he made no arm movements as Mr Watson was holding a male Dobermann in one hand and a show bag in the other.

In conclusion, the Committee believes that it is a matter of regret that an incident of a personal nature has been brought into the public domain.

Full Report

by Sandra Johnston

The Disciplinary Sub Committee (Scotland) met on Friday 16th February to consider the complaint made by Mrs Margaret Marshall of Carstairs Junction in Lanarkshire against Mrs Helen and Mr Ally Watson of Balerno, Midlothian that they behaved discreditably or prejudicially to the interests of the canine world in that on 20th August 2000, at approximately 12 noon - 1.00pm at the Ice Rink, Kirkcaldy during an Open Show held by Fife Kennel Association they approached Mrs Marshall shouting and swearing verbal abuse at her because her Dobermann had just beaten their Dobermann for Best of Breed.

The Committee consisted of Dr. Valerie Marrian, Chairman, and Mrs J Aitken Johnston, Mrs Anne Macdonald, Mrs Irene McManus and Rev. Jim Peat.

Dr Marrian opened the proceedings at 10.10 and read out details of the complaint explaining to everyone present that this was rather like an enquiry to allow everyone to put their evidence forward and to allow the Committee to come to a decision. The witnesses were then asked to leave and the hearing began. Mrs Marshall was asked to describe in her own words the incident and she told the Committee that ‘she was standing outside the ring at the Show just after her husband had been awarded Best of Breed with the Dobermann Kramnaraks Love Me Tender of Fairbrigg when Mr Watson approached her and said “your dog’s a load of f****** bloody crap. It’s a load of bloody rubbish. It’s not an open dog, it shouldn’t even be in open. It can’t even move.’’ He kind of turned to walk away and Mrs Watson approached and said “it’s alright to have friends Margaret, If it wasn’t for your f****** friends you wouldn’t win much” and they stormed off both still swearing and shouting.’ Since Mrs Marshall had declined to say the actual swear words but had only used initials Dr Marrian asked if she would actually clarify what swear words were used and Mrs Marshall then said F****** and Bloody. Dr Marrian asked how many times they were used and Mrs Marshall said that Mr Watson had used the F word more than once but that Mrs Watson had used it once and they were still swearing as they moved away. Dr Marrian asked if Mr Watson had behaved aggressively towards Mrs Marshall and she replied that he was really angry, red faced and leaning in towards her, towering over her during the incident. His body language was frightening and aggressive leaning in and swearing.
Rev. Jim Peat asked if she found his behaviour surprising . Did it catch her unawares? Yes said Mrs Marshall. it was a surprise. Mrs Irene McManus then asked Mrs Marshall regarding Mr & Mrs Watson have you found that this is Mr and Mrs Watson’s behaviour to other exhibitors. Mrs Marshall replied that she could not comment on that. Mrs Mamanus went on to ask ‘prior to this show have they had this attitude to you before’, Mrs Marshall replied ‘Yes’. Mrs Anne Macdonald then asked prior to this episode have you ever had words before and Mrs Marshall replied no. Mrs Macdonald then asked is your behaviour towards each other amicable and Mrs Marshall replied ‘I wouldn’t say that’ .

Mr J Aitken Johnston then asked her to explain aggressive behaviour - was it threatening? and Mrs Marshall replied it was aggressive - into my face. Mrs McManus then asked Mrs Marshall to repeat the details of the incident once more for the benefit of the committee and Mrs Marshall repeated that he came up to me and said ‘’your F****** dobe is a load of F****** Bloody crap, it shouldn’t be in open dog It can’t move it’s f****** ridiculous’ and she said if it wasn’t for your f****** friends you wouldn’t win much.

Dr Marrian asked her how she was feeling and Mrs Marshall said she was quite happy and then they approached on their way out of the venue and abused her. Mr Marshall was still in the ring having a critique done.

Rev. Peat asked in this competitive sport we are engaged in have you ever publicly criticised other people’s dogs in such a manner to which Mrs Marshall replied 'We have had a moan but no, not in such a manner’.

Dr Marrian thanked Mrs Marshall and asked for Mrs Watson to speak. Mrs Watson stated that 'her husband was provoked by Mrs Marshall. He has never lost his temper before with anyone at any shows. He did not say the F word but just did say Bloody Crap. There are discrepancies in Mrs Marshall's statement. This was said in passing and only took a second. I dispute swearing at Mrs Marshall. I find it difficult to swear and will bring forward witnesses to say so.

Mr Richard Morrison who had come in support of Mrs Marshall then asked Mrs Marshall 'did Mrs Watson swear' and she replied 'yes''. He then asked Mrs Watson to clarify that her husband swore to which she replied he said bloody crap but did not use the f word.

Witnesses for Mrs Marshall were then called in and the first witness, Pam Downes from Salsburgh, was asked to present her version of the incident. Ms Downes who shows Siberian Huskies said that on that day she was standing watching the Dobes with friends who also show Huskies and they were hanging round the ring since the Huskies were next in the ring when Mrs Marshall walked up. At this point Mrs Watson was in the ring with a brown dog and Mrs Marshall was also in the ring. Mrs Marshall and Ms Downes chatted and Mrs Marshall said 'that's a nice wee brown dobe’ and I agreed with her. At that Mr Watson came up complaining that no way should Mrs Marshall's dog win, it was not an open dog, it was not sound, you only win under friends. It’s rubbish. At first Ms Downes thought this was a joke then she suddenly realised he was very angry. Mrs Watson came out of the ring and said something like bloody F****** rubbish and they walked away leaving Mrs Marshall in a state of shock and also those people who were standing round about at the time of the incident. When asked what swear words were used she replied that F****** and bloody were used and by both Mr and Mrs Watson. Rev. Peat then asked on a scale of one to ten of aggression how would she see their behaviour and she replied ten. Asked also if there was any response from Mrs Marshall she said no she was standing shocked and did not reply. Mrs McManus asked how many times the f word had been used and she said that the man had used it at least once and the woman once. Before the swear words Ms Downes thought it was a joke and quipped back something to the effect of it’s OK , she slept with the judge (as a joke) but she suddenly realised he was serious. Mrs Macdonald asked where the man had come from and were the Watsons on their way out of the venue. Ms Downes said that she did not know where the man had come from but Mrs Watson came out of the ring and was on her way out of the venue. Mrs Marshall was stunned. When asked who had identified Mr & Mrs Watson Ms Downes replied that it was another friend at the show. She herself did not know them although she recognised them from occasional open shows but did not know their names.

Mrs Watson then turned to the witness and said that she had noticed on her written statement there were a lot of discrepancies and that she had not mentioned Mr Watson swearing to which Ms Dowes replied that she had been asked to provide a short statement of the events. Mr Morrison asked Ms Downes if she was comfortable putting things onto paper and she said and not even in words. She confirmed that Mrs Marshall was not aggressive in any way.

Mrs Watson then said to Ms Downes that remarks she had said that Mr Watson made about the judge were not in her written statement and Ms Downes said 'no, I just did a brief statement in words. I did not even mention the joke I made about sleeping with the judge’.

The next witness for Mrs Marshall was Mr Ross Gilbert . He stated that six months ago at Kirkcaldy they had gone to the show and since their Afghan dog was lame that day only went to see the judging.

On arrival at the show he walked to the grooming area to speak to the other Afghan exhibitors then walked across to the Working ring to watch since it was a friend of his who was judging that day. As he passed Mrs Marshall he asked how the judge was doing and she replied that she would speak to him in a minute and he turned back to the ring in time to see Best of Breed being awarded and heard the clapping from around the ring. He was just about to say well done to Mrs Marshall when he saw this man approach aggressively and using colourful language. Mrs Watson then came out of the ring saying 'we’ve seen who your friends are' and using more colourful language. The judge caught my eye at that and I went to speak to him then went back to the Afghan ring. Mrs Marshall's husband approached me later to ask if I had witnessed the incident and and said that Mrs Marshall was very upset. He asked if I would be willing to come forward.

When asked what he had heard Mr Gilbert said 'your F****** dog is crap, you only win under your f******* friends. Dr Marrian asked if Mr Watson used different words and Mrs Gilbert replied mostly F-word and your dog is crap. Aitken Johnston asked him to explain aggressive behaviour and he replied there were no hands but he was in her face and not like talking. Who identified him for you? Mr Marshall. Mrs Macdonald asked if he noticed Mrs Marshall behaving aggressively. No she was clapping, people were clapping. Mrs McManus asked him where he was when Best of Breed was given out. My back was towards Mrs Marshall but I immediately turned to Mrs Marshall. I was about four feet from them. Jim Peat asked if he watched the dobes on a regular basis and he replied that he was watching his friend the judge. I did not know the Watsons. Rev Peat asked him to explain aggressively as well as gestures. There were no hands they were not raised but very into her face attitude. Mrs Watson then said she thought hands would be considered as gestures and was that the way he said it to which Mr Gilbert replied 'yes'. Mrs Watson went on -Mrs Marshall was up a bit there is no way you could have heard and Mr Gilbert reiterated that he was two steps away and as close as he was now. Mr Morrison asked if he could clarify the aggressive behaviour and Mr Gilbert replied -not hands - it looked aggressive and he was much taller than her and towering over and leaning into her face. Mr Morrison then asked if he definitely did not know the Watsons. Mr Gilbert said no. Mrs Watson then said 'but you know Mrs Marshall' to which he replied not socially - I see her at shows.
The next witness called was Sharon Jones from Wishaw who said ' I was at Fife show and was taking the dogs outside. I hadn't seen the Dobe judging at that point but I heard Mr and Mrs Watson shouting that there were no other Dobes entered because it was friends of the Marshalls who judge.

I did not see inside and did not know who won Best of Breed. This was outside. Mr Johnston said 'you have stated that you did not witness the actual incident. Miss Jones 'No but this was outside.' Mrs Macdonald asked her if she knew Mr & Mrs Watson and she said she did and that they exhibited Dobes. Mrs McManus asked how near she was to them outside and Miss Jones replied just a couple of feet. They were talking about it. Mr Watson said it was a disgrace but that it was a friend who had been judging. Mrs McManus pressed her as to what they said. Miss Jones replied that they said the F****** dog should not have won F****** Best of Breed it is F******crap. Rev Peat asked who they were talking to and she replied each other - so they were still shouting about it to each other - Yes. Dr Marrian asked her if she knew Mrs Marshall and she said yes but at this point I did not know that it was Mrs Marshall who had won Best of Breed. Mrs Watson asked her how she knew they were showing and she replied she had seen them inside waiting to go in with their dog. Mrs Watson asked if Miss Jones knew them and she said she knew their names.

Jacqueline Russell from Thankerton was the next witness who stated that the Husky people were all in one bit of the grooming area next to where the Dobes were being judged and we were just standing watching. After Best of Breed was done Mr Watson walked up shouting abuse about the dog and the judge and it winning Best of Breed. Mrs Marshall was shocked and we offered to be witnesses. When asked to repeat what Mr Watson had said she repeated 'your f****** dog should not be in the ring, your F****** dog is F****** crap , the judge is your F****** friend. Mrs McManus asked when did Mr Watson approach - after Best of Breed was awarded she replied. Mrs Macdonald said to her 'you say Mr Watson approached and used foul language - did Mrs Watson? - Yes she said your F****** dog is shite. Mr Johnston Clarify where Mr Marshall was - He was on his way out. Dr Marrian then said she thought Mrs Russell had said he approached Mrs Marshall to which she replied that it was only briefly and went off out the ring Rev Peat mentioned that in her statement she had written that he had used the F word eight times and could she be sure of that. She said it could have been more. On a scale of one to ten for aggressive behaviour how would she rate it and she said nine. Rev Peat continued by saying that when we are excited we can use aggressive gestures so did he . I did not see any was her reply. When asked how close she was she confirmed just a few feet away.Mr Johnston then asked where Mrs Marshall was standing when Mr Watson walked toward her - at the entrance to the ring. Mr Watson walked from the entrance towards Mrs Marshall as Mr Marshall had moved away and then Mr Watson spoke to Mrs Marshall. Mrs Watson asked if she had said in her statement that Mr Watson was in the ring and she said I meant that Mr Watson's dobe was in the ring. Mrs Watson continued - no other witness says that number of swear words are you sure. Yes Mrs Watson then said I can't take your statement seriously - it has too many holes in it.

Mr Morrison then said that this was Mrs Russell's perception of the event. The last witness to be called was Mr Mark Russell of Thankerton and before giving a statement Dr Marrian asked for him to clarify that he had not actually given a written statement and Mr Russell said that he had thought that the statement his wife had sent in covered both of them and he had not thought it was necessary. He described the incident for the Committee. He had been standing behind Mrs Marshall grooming his dog since the husky class was on next. He was bending down grooming his dog’s legs when he heard Mrs Marshall being abused and expletives being used so he stood up. He heard the man say you only win under your expletive friends, your dog is no expletive good. He walked away with his wife still using expletives. Dr Marrian asked what expletives were used and Mr Russell replied that he would rather not swear but it was 'effing'. Dr Marrian repeated the word in full and asked how many times and he replied at least seven and that he turned back to groom his dogs when Mrs Watson came out of the ring and started to say 'there is no 'effing' use coming to these shows. You always win under your 'effing' friends.

Mrs Macdonald asked him since he was bending over his dog did he see him approach and he said he was alerted by the abuse and did not know Mrs Marshall until that point and she was in shock. Mr Johnston noted that from his own body language during his account of the event Mr Russell had leaned forward. How was Mr Watson's body language. Mr Russell replied that it was aggressive, leaning over (here he demonstrated). Mrs McManus asked how close he approached and he replied about one and a half feet looking dour and leaning over. Mrs Mcmanus asked when this was - had judging been completed. Mr Russell replied that he believed so that judging was completed but Mrs Mcmanus repeated ‘you believe so, you must confirm this’. Mr Russell said that he did not see Best of Breed awarded but surmised this. Mrs McManus then read part of the written statement out to him and asked if he agreed with this to which he replied he was happy to agree. Dr Marrian then pointed out that the statement said he was chatting and congratulating saying what a nice dog the Dobe was yet you say you were grooming dog. Mr Russell replied that yes, he was grooming his dog but his wife was chatting and speaking to Mrs Marshall. He spoke to her after the incident. Rev Peat asked for clarification of where Mr Marshall was - he and his wife walked past with their dog - Rev Peat said that he had asked where Mr Marshall was and not Mr Watson. Mr Russell said sorry I thought you meant Mr Watson - I did not see where Mr Marshall was. He was asked if he had seen any provocation and replied no. Rev Peat went on to ask on the score of one to ten how aggressive was the behaviour, to which Mr Russell replied that he would not be happy to see his wife treated like that - but how aggressive - very aggressive. Mr Watson then asked how long the incident had lasted and then said that Mr Russell stated that he was swearing constantly for minutes. Mr Watson that that it was not something he would do and that everyone else had said less swearing. Mr Russell replied that it went on whilst he was grooming his dog.

The Committee then asked Mrs Watson to state her account of the incident Mrs Watson said that they entered the show and saw them (Mr & Mrs Marshall) at the corner of the ring and as usual saw her decry Mrs Watson’s dog. In the class there were three dobes, mine Anne Lyall’s and Mr Marshall's. On going round the ring Anne Lyall slipped and when we were waiting to be seen we joked together what a way to attract the judge. The placings in the class were Mr Marshall first, myself second, and Anne Lyall third. I have a very difficult bitch, very lively and my face when I come out of the ring probably shows my efforts in showing her. We left the ring and to be honest it was like she had won the lottery or something. I had to pass her at the entrance where she was standing with these people. I said to her I admit with a wry smile on my face - nice to have friends Margaret. My husband was behind me and she made a remark to him and he made the remarks about her dog and Anne Lyall made up the rear. Then my husband said to me I should not have risen to that. We took our dogs outside and we were not swearing. Our car was blocked in. We put the dogs in the car and came back for a coffee.

Mrs Watson went on to explain that she had hoped to have had a Mrs Souza at the hearing but that Mrs Souza had allegedly received a phone call saying that she was standing as a witness for Mrs Watson and when Mrs Watson asked her to attend she declined and Mrs Watson did not like to press her and cause her further distress. She was asked to be more specific about how Mrs Marshall had goaded Mr Watson. She replied that there was a long history of bad sportsmanship but the Rev. Peat asked her to confine herself to the goading. She said Mrs Marshall leaned forwards and clapped her hands. She was asked again ‘Are you stating one of your witnesses will not attend due to a threatening phone call’. No I am not stating that but she said she had a call saying that she was a witness for the Watsons. I did not like to stress her out by asking her to come - she does not keep well. Rev Peat asked her to explain the goading prior to the incident. Mrs Watson said that earlier she had seen the Marshalls grimacing and shaking their heads as usual and I thought here we go again, as usual. Don’t get me wrong, I was annoyed but I am used to it. Rev Peat then spoke to Mr Watson and asked him to explain how he saw the gestures. Mr Watson said the same as his wife but he did not hear anything. Rev Peat asked him if he admitted to the incident and he said Yes but only in the passing and I did not swear. Asked if he had approached Mrs Marshall he said only in the passing but I might have slowed down a bit but I had a Dobe in one hand and a show bag in the other. Mrs McManus asked 'Did Mrs Marshall say anything at all'. He replied no I don't think so’. Mrs Mcmanus then turned to Mrs Watson and said 'you say stroppy bitch for want of a better word so people could assume you were annoyed with the judging and not with the bitch’ - Yes was Mrs Watson's reply. Mrs Souza stated that she had a threatening call and again Mrs Watson replied ‘Yes’. Mrs Macdonald went on 'you obviously said you had an obstreperous dog but were you annoyed’, Mrs Watson replied ‘Yes but afterwards when I went outside’. She was asked if she was the first person to pass Mrs Marshall which she confirmed saying that after she put her face into mine and was clapping I said to her ''nice to have friends Margaret'' with a wry smile certainly Our Dobes do well and people will say this. I was surprised when I got this complaint. Mr Watson added that he only raised his voice to be heard since everyone knows the noise at a dog show. Mr Johnston asked him to clarify whether he was in the ring and he replied no since he does not show the dogs. Mrs McManus asked him to clarify that he was annoyed at Mrs Marshall and not at the judging to which he confirmed Yes.

Mr Morrison then asked him how far away he was on first entering the show and seeing Mr & Mrs Marshall and pointed out that he could not hear them. Mr Watson confirmed that he could not hear them and said that he had admitted that in his statement. Mr Morrison then turned to Mrs Watson and asked her what she meant by the remark 'nice to have friends', and she replied ‘Well she was surrounded by her friends’. For the benefit of the Committee Mr Morrison then said that he knew Mrs Souza worked nightshifts not returning home until 7.00am so there would not be any possibility of her being able to attend. He also worked with Mr Souza who was very deep and had said nothing at all about the case. Mr Watson then pointed out that with regard to the swearing some witnesses had said none, some once and some eight or nine times.

Anne Lyall was then called in to give her statement. ‘I was at Fife Show on 20th August 2000 and I was entered in Open Dobe along with Helen and Mr Watson. I was third in the class, Helen second and Mr Marshall first . When we went round the ring I skidded and skinned my knees in the ring and Helen and I made humorous comments about attracting the judge. Helen went back in to compete for Best of Breed. Mr Marshall won and when we came out Helen asked me if I was OK. When I had changed my dog's collar Mrs Watson was in front of her husband and I was about ten feet behind. When we passed Mrs Marshall she had a surprised expression on her face as if Mr Watson had made a comment and I think I would have heard. Mr & Mrs Watson went on out but I went to the Utility ring’.

Mr Johnston asked her if she was near enough to hear a comment and she replied - not unless there was shouting.Mrs Macdonald asked if she was aware of any comments and she replied no but something could have been said. Mrs McManus asked her if she was aware of any comment and again she replied no but it might have been said in jest. Dr Marrian asked if she saw Mrs Marshall make any approach to Mr Watson and she said no she was with four people chatting. Dr Marrian continued - it was said earlier in the day that there were aggressive gestures from Mrs Marshall. Did Mrs Lyall see any to which she replied no.

Mrs Watson then asked Anne Lyall to describe how her bitch was to show to which she said ''Fiery'' and Mrs Watson asked how she was when she came out of the ring and Mrs Lyall replied with a laugh ''Exhausted!'' Mr Watson then said 'It was said that I was swearing and shouting. did you hear anything? No. Have you ever heard me swear - No.

Dr Marrian then asked Mrs Watson if she had any other witnesses but she said there were only three of us in the ring. She was shocked at the complaint and had she known she would have looked for more witnesses on the day. Mr Morrison pointed out that at no time had it been said that Mr & Mrs Marshall were decrying Mr & Mrs Watson's dog but that Mr & Mrs Watson acted prejudicially to the dog game. Mr Watson also admits using bloody.
Dr Marrian thanked him and Mr Morrison went on to point out that Mr & Mrs Watson had presented several character witnesses but they started out by praising the Watsons then went on to go to town on Mr & Mrs Marshall. The committee was then asked to declare any interest then the hearing was closed but restarted 35 minutes later due to slightly conflicting statements about the positions of those involved and the exact time of the incident. A flip chart was used and one of the witnesses drew out the ring and the positions. Mrs Lyall was asked to clarify that she would not be aware of any movement when watching Best of Breed. She agreed this was so and Dr Marrian asked if she was not aware of it or categorically did not see it. Rev Peat them spoke to Mr Watson saying that he HAD admitted making the remarks and the mild language but could he clarify when the incident took place - was it after Best of Breed or on leaving. Mr Watson confirmed Best of Breed had been awarded and he was on his way out with his wife in front of him having left the ring. Mr Johnston then pointed out that if his wife was in front she would not know what transpired and asked how far away she was. Mr Watson said she was not that far.

Dr Marrian thanked everyone again and closed the hearing. The committee took just over two hours to reach the decision that the complaint was not upheld.