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Crufts BIS judge withdraws and chairman resigns

Joyce W Mann judging for the last time at Manchester show

THE WORLD of pedigree dogs was rocked this week by the announcement on Tuesday of the withdrawal of the Crufts 2004 Best in show judge Mrs Joyce Mann from her appointment in March. She has also withdrawn from all future appointments and has retired from judging. In addition her husband Peter Mann has resigned as a Kennel Club Trustee, from the Finance and General purposes Committee, the General Committee and as Chairman of Crufts Show Committee.

The two moves, announced in Kennel Club press releases, come following the anonymous circulation of a letter damning Mrs Joyce W Mann’s breeding activities in Yorkshire Terriers in the late 1960s and early 1970s. It was sent to various OUR DOGS columnists and also to those who contribute to our contemporary. Copies of the letter were also circulated in Europe and Australia.

The letter posted in Manchester over the weekend of January 10th/11th also contained a photocopy of the Kennel Club Breed Records Supplement (BRS) for the year 1971 in which Mrs Mann’s Craigsbank kennel registered 126 puppies from 23 litters.

Pointedly it says, ‘surely not an attempt to produce a special little dog for the show ring’. It then invites the recipients to check the Kennel Club BRS records for the years 1969 to 1974.

The letter which also turned up in New York prompted the Editor of American Dog News to contact the Kennel Club to ask if there was any truth in the story. It is also widely believed that it had been received by magazines and columnists in Europe and Australia.

The Kennel Club issued Mrs Joyce Mann’s statement which said:-

‘It is with great sadness that I have felt it necessary to notify the Kennel Club that, due to the stress and anguish I
have been experiencing as a result of scurrilous anonymous accusations against me, which have resulted in my receiving medical attention, I have no alternative but to withdraw from my appointment to judge Best in Show at Crufts 2004. As a result of the stress these episodes have caused me, I no longer wish to carry on judging and will therefore be withdrawing from all of my future appointments and retiring from judging completely.

‘The support I have been given by my husband in this decision is typical of the mutual respect and loyalty we have for each other.’

The Kennel Club confirmed that a replacement judge will be announced sometime next week. In the past it has been custom and practice to bring forward the following year’s appointment when breed class judges have stepped down. The 2005 best in show judge is Miss Jean Lanning JP.

In another press release said: ‘The Kennel Club regrets to announce the resignation of Mr Peter Mann from the position of Trustee of the Kennel Club, member of the Kennel Club General Committee and Chairman of Crufts.

‘Peter Mann has advised his colleagues on the General Committee of his decision and, with great regret, the Chairman, Ronnie Irving, has accepted his resignation.

‘Peter Mann’s resignation was made at the same time as the decision of his wife Joyce to withdraw from her appointment to judge Best in Show at Crufts 2004 and all future judging appointments, and to retire from judging.

‘As a member of General Committee, the Board of Kennel Club Services and the Finance & General Purposes Sub Committee, Peter Mann has made a huge contribution to the work of the Kennel Club over many years. In addition he took the Chair of the Crufts Committee in 2001 and brought his own relaxed style to the management of the Show. Peter headed up the hugely successful campaign to raise one million pounds for the Kennel Club Charitable Trust – overseeing the Charitable Trust Auction for the last three years at Crufts.

‘In his letter to his colleagues on the General Committee Peter has made it clear that, in view of anonymous accusations circulating, he felt that he had no alternative but to resign.

Out of loyalty and support for his wife and a desire to prevent any damage to the reputation and standing of the Kennel Club and Crufts and all they do to promote dogs, he considered this to be the only sensible course of action.

‘Kennel Club Chairman Ronnie Irving said, ‘Peter will be very much missed both by staff and fellow committee members. He is a man who has contributed significantly to the Kennel Club – over many years, much more than most will ever realise. He has worked tirelessly fundraising for the Charitable Trust and was instrumental in raising over one million pounds for the sake of dogs. His resignation is a great loss both to the Kennel Club in particular and to the world of dogs in general.’

Mrs Mann awarded Kennel Club Challenge Certificates in 70 breeds and has had a judging career which spanned some 30 years. Her last judging appointment was at Manchester show two weeks ago when she judge the Bannerdown Special Beginners’ Stakes classes each day.

OUR DOGS also learned this week that Mr Peter Mann has resigned as a vice president of the Scottish Kennel Club and as a member. He was a former Convener of the SKC and did much to re-establish the club following its financial difficulties in the early 1980s.