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(Updated 7/9/01)

Judges are fined for judging at unlicensed show



JUDGES WHO officiated at a show which, unbeknown to them or the organisers was accidentally unlicensed, have each been fined 50 as a penalty by the Scottish Kennel Club.

The show in question was the dog section of the Turriff Agricultural Show, held in Turriff, north of Aberdeen, in August 2000.

It appeared that, due to a change of Show Secretary at the Turriff District Agricultural Association, the licence for the 2000 show was not applied for, but the SKC only discovered that the show was unlicensed when it was brought to their attention that a replacement judge had been required and they investigated the matter further.

In the course of this investigation, the SKC allegedly decided to withhold the licence for the 2001 show as a penalty.

Oversight

Bruce Ferguson, Show Secretary of the Turriff District Agricultural Association was, naturally disappointed by the SKC's response to what, he says, was a simple oversight.

"As far as I was aware we'd had no comment from the Scottish Kennel Club about the lack of a licence for the 2000 show," Mr Ferguson told OUR DOGS. "I'd recently taken over the position of Show Secretary and, to be honest, I had no idea that the dog show needed to be licensed, although that does, of course, make perfect sense.

'However, I would naturally have assumed that my predecessor would have dealt with this before leaving his position, but apparently not. As far as the Dog Show committee were concerned, this had been done, so we were all taken by surprise when the SKC told us that the 2000 show had been unlicensed.

"The SKC only found out about the lack of a licence when they were notified of a replacement judge being required. Their response, I have to say, surprised me greatly. I pointed out that this was a genuine error and that I had been unaware of the licensing situation. But their attitude was extremely unhelpful. They imposed a fine on the Association and on each judge who officiated at the show, which, to me, seems extreme, to say the least.

"Obviously, I made sure to apply for a licence for the 2001 show in good time and the SKC duly issued this. Then they turned round and said they were going to refuse the licence because of what had occurred with the 2000 show, a further penalty against us.

"In the event, the 2001 show was cancelled due to Foot and Mouth in the area, but the SKC's attitude and reaction.

" Mr Ferguson pointed out that the Association would reimburse all Judges for their fines if they paid them.

The comments of dog exhibitor Alan Hedges echoed those of Mr Ferguson: "What are the SKC thinking about? This action can have no effect other than to alienate whole swathes of show people. Why weren't all the exhibitors fined? Surely they are just as culpable? This is using a mash hammer to hit a drawing pin. Why?"

OUR DOGS contacted the Scottish Kennel Club over the matter. Secretary General Alan Sim explained that he felt the SKC's Committee had acted entirely correctly in the matter.

"We might well have indicated that we would not licence the 2001 show, but the matter is academic now anyway," he said. "As regards the 2002 show, we would seek necessary assurances from the Turriff Association in their application. There were other issues involved in this matter. We have now informed the Association of the need to follow the necessary regulations as regards obtaining a license.

"The Association did not have a properly constituted dog section committee and this is an essential requirement under SKC rules and regulations. We have pointed this fact out to the Association to take on board."

Asked whether it was unfair to fine the judges for taking part in an unlicensed event in honest ignorance, Mr Sim disagreed.

"I think it was perfectly correct to fine the judges," he said. "It is essential that judges DO check whether a show is licensed before they officiate, otherwise there is no point to our having a licensing system if they don't check. Kennel Club rules state that the licence for the show must be clearly displayed and obviously it was not. There's no point having rules if they will not be adhered to. Staging an unlicensed event is a very serious situation.