The Kennel Club -v- Mr Geoffrey Butler
An exhibitor, who had intended to show his two GSDs at a breed show at the Newark and Notts Showground last November found himself facing a £500 fine and a five year ban, following a full day Rule A42 hearing at The Kennel Club last Thursday. The complaint was brought by the KC following a series of alleged incidents which culminated in a security guard being "knocked over" and injured, whilst the exhibitor was attempting to leave the showground in his van. van had opened barriers and when challenged was abusive to a security guard. Mr Smith then called Mr Johnston the CEO of the Society to check whether he could evict the driver from the showground. It was then that both gentlemen spotted a white van and approached it to speak to the driver, the location of this as previously mentioned was disputed. Mr Butler had been exercising his dogs and when approached by both gentlemen put his dogs back inside his van. Mr Dinnis and Mr Smith then identified themselves and Mr Butler was asked to leave the restricted area as this was for the use of a separate chargeable event. Mr Dinnis then stated in his reply that Mr Butler appeared to be quite "stressed" and antagonistic, quite out of proportion and that foul language was used.
Mr Geoffrey Butler of Whittlesey, Peterborough, whilst reluctantly admitting that he had used "unpleasant language" towards security personnel, disputed that he had deliberately ignored traffic management plans, ignored requests from security stewards and drove his vehicle in such a way that he knocked down and injured one of the security guards, who had been on duty at the main gate.
Mr Butler claimed that he was "unaware" that he had entered a restricted area at the Showground and was "unaware" that the persons asking him to move and eventually leave the showground, were indeed security personnel and that Mr Peter Budworth one of the security guards involved, had "slipped on mud" and not been knocked down by his vehicle on the day in question. The incident escalated to the extent that the police were called and arrested Mr Budworth in connection with the incident, but they later decided not to press charges following advice from the C.P.S.
Mr Butler was legally represented by Mr John Orbell of Bowser, Ollard and Bentley, Solicitors of March, Cambridgeshire. The Kennel Club case was presented once again by Mr Martin Evans, Counsel to The Kennel Club, who has presented such cases for the KC on a number of occasions. Also in attendance, in addition to witnesses and the six members of the Disciplinary Sub Committee, were Mrs Linda Branwhite, the KC Disciplinary co-ordinator and members of the Canine Press.
It has to be said, from the outset that Mr Butler had instructed his legal representative to argue vigorously on his behalf as to the exact location, within the showground, where his vehicle had stopped so that he could exercise his two dogs and where he was challenged for a second time by security staff and a senior representative of the Newark and Nottinghamshire Agricultural Society.
Various maps, diagrams, charts and plans were produced, highlighted with marker pens and with explanatory notes to state the case for both parties. Mr Butler was adamant that he had stopped next to the main ring on Presidents Way, whilst a number of security staff, a senior official from the showground and a groundsman all stated that Mr Butler was challenged whilst he was in the Overspill Car Park area, lower down the showground.
These arguments took up considerable time and it was eventually pointed out by Mr Evans, council for the KC that the precise location of Mr Butler’s van during this part of the sequence of events was irrelevant as all areas were indeed "restricted access".
The complaint made against Mr Butler by the KC was that he (a) Was verbally abusive to security personnel engaged at the Newark Showground. (b) Deliberately ignored the traffic management plan in place at the Newark Showground. (c) Ignored instructions and requests from security stewards, and (d) drove his vehicle in such a manner to knock down and injure Mr Peter Budworth. All these events were alleged to have occurred on the morning of November 23rd 2003.
The case was begun by Mr Evans on behalf of the KC, who set the scene by stating that on the day of the show there were two different events taking place on the showground. In addition to the GSD (Alsatian) Club of the United Kingdom breed championship show, there was also a vintage tractor show taking place. As the dog show had free entry and the tractor show had a £5 entry charge, certain traffic management plans had been put in place. These were also in force to restrict vehicle access to areas of the showground where the public had pedestrian access, for safety reasons. The GSD show was being held in the Crocker Halls and entrance to the show was via the blue gate. There were signs put up saying "No Dog Show Traffic" and a lift up barrier was closed to restrict the movement of the dog show exhibitors to within the designated areas. There were also security stewards to assist and direct the dog show traffic and a large number of "crowd control" barriers fencing off the dog show area.
Initially, as soon as the introductory formalities were completed for the hearing Mr Obell, for Mr Butler stated that he questioned the jurisdiction of the KC in this matter as whilst the alleged incidents had indeed taken place on the N&N Showground, they were outside the specific area designated for the use of the GSD show. However after raising this point and expressing his concerns, Mr Obell said that he did not intend to pursue the matter any further.
Mr Evans in response drew the hearing's attention to KC Rule A42 a (1) b and to the entry declaration signed by Mr Butler when entering the show.
The first witness called by the KC was Mr John Dinnis, the administration manager for the Newark and Nottinghamshire Agricultural Society, who's responsibilities include the health and safety of the Newark Showground. Mr Dinnis stated that on the morning in question, he had been positioned at the Blue Gate with Mr Keith Smith of Back Stage Security, the security contractors for the day, when a radio message came through alerting Mr Smith to the fact that driver in a white
The time was about 9am. Mr Butler stated that he had been coming to the show for the last 12 years and this is where he always exercised his dogs and he was not going to stop for anyone. Mr Dinnis then requested that Mr Butler leave the showground. Mr Butler refused and Mr Dinnis replied that he would call the police to evict him for the showground. With that Mr Butler jumped back in his van and drove off.
Mr Smith requested other security officers to shadow the van whilst Mr Dinnis rang the police to advise them of the situation. At this stage the van had disappeared from Mr Dinnis' view but a call came over the radio that the driver had driven back through the barriers and in the process had knocked over a security guard. Both Mr Dinnis and Mr Smith then drove to the Dog Show and were informed that the driver was now inside the dog show building and that he had indeed knocked over a security guard. The injured guard, Mr Budworth was initially treated on site by the St John Ambulance staff then was taken to Lincoln Hospital for treatment by the county ambulance service. Mr Dinnis stated that he had been with the society for three years, the last two as administration manager and this event was a rare occurrence. The showground is host to about 80 dog shows a year and Mr Dinnis had never come across such a situation before.
In cross examination, Mr Orbell stated that Mr Dinnis' evidence had been mainly hearsay as he had not witnessed the alleged knocking over incident or seen the barrier being raised or lowered. He then disputed the area where the two gentleman had confronted his client.
The next witness was Mr Keith Smith who was the security supervisor at the showground on the day of the incident. His version of events broadly tallied with that of Mr Dinnis, but he did add that as a result of the incident, Mr Budworth was off work for four months.
After a break for lunch, the third witness to be called was Mr Paul Dodds of Sheffield a security guard on the day, working with Mr Budworth. He confirmed that the lift up barrier was down on the morning in question but that he had just let an authorised trade vehicle through it. He closed the barrier and as he was walking back to the main gate he was aware of a white van pulling up at the barrier. The driver got out and the witness enquired if he could help and Mr Butler replied that he was going round the back of the Crocker buildings to park. Mr Dodds advised Mr Butler of the designated parking areas for the dog show. Mr Butler replied "I always park round the back so I'm going there now". He then opened the barrier and started to get back in to his van. Mr Dodds closed the barrier, whereupon Mr Butler got out of his vehicle and using offensive language said "I don't care what you say, I'm going round" and again he opened the barrier. At this point Mr Dodds let him through as he said he feared for his personal safety. He immediately radioed for assistance and a Mr Steve Flatter can in the company mini bus. They caught up with Mr Butler and once again asked him to move his van again he refused and was abusive in his reply. After repeatedly telling he man to leave he got into his vehicle and drove off through the tractor event. Mr Flatter followed in the mini bus whilst Mr Dodds went on foot. Mr Dodds then saw Both Mr Smith and Mr Dinnis arrive on the scene and Mr Dodds stood back from the scene.
van had opened barriers and when challenged was abusive to a security guard. Mr Smith then called Mr Johnston the CEO of the Society to check whether he could evict the driver from the showground. It was then that both gentlemen spotted a white van and approached it to speak to the driver, the location of this as previously mentioned was disputed. Mr Butler had been exercising his dogs and when approached by both gentlemen put his dogs back inside his van. Mr Dinnis and Mr Smith then identified themselves and Mr Butler was asked to leave the restricted area as this was for the use of a separate chargeable event. Mr Dinnis then stated in his reply that Mr Butler appeared to be quite "stressed" and antagonistic, quite out of proportion and that foul language was used.
In cross examination, Mr Orbell alleged that Mr Dodds had closed the barrier on the bonnet of Mr Butler's van causing damage, "no". Mr Orbell then produced some photographs showing alleged damage to the bonnet of his van. This was denied. "I put it to you that if Mr Butler was aggressive, he would have some justification for being aggressive having just had a barrier put down on the bonnet of his vehicle." "No". In reply to questions from the Sub Committee Mr Dogs confirmed that he was wearing a bright yellow jacket with reflective strips and the company name on the back.
The fourth witness was Mr Paul Harness a groundsman at the showground. He stated that on the morning in question he had gone to the showground offices to change the battery on his two way radio. With his radio now working he heard a transmission to the effect that security were having a problem with a man in a van. Mr Harness was asked to take the lock from Green gate and put it onto the barrier to stop Mr Butler being followed by other vehicles through the middle of the showground. After he had chained up the barrier he saw the van driving down the back of the buildings, when the van reached the barrier it stopped Mr Butler got out and took the chain off and lifted up the barrier. Mr Harness caught up with him just as he got back into his van and tried to open the door. Mr Bedworth then arrived from Green gate and stood in front of the van, but Mr Butler just started to move the vehicle slowly forward and clearly had no intention of stopping. Mr Budworth started to move round the van, but out of the blue, Mr Butler picked up speed, knocking down Mr Budworth.
Mr Orbell suggested that far from Mr Budworth being knocked down by his client, he had "slipped on the greasy muddy ground" "It wasn't muddy ground, you don't know what you are talking about, it wasn't even wet". Mr Harness then stated that Mr Butler then drove on turning left in front of the Crocker halls, before returning to leave the showground to park on the road outside, returning to visit the show on foot.
The fifth and final witness was the injured security guard, Mr Peter Budworth of Mansfield. In reply to questions he stated that on the morning in question he was wearing distinctive company clothing, identifying him as a security guard. It was his intention to escort the vehicle from the showground ad he stood in front of the vehicle and put his hand up to stop the van. He was about ten feet in front of the vehicle, when Mr Butler got back in his van and drove off. Mr Budworth shouted at the driver to stop, because he wanted to speak to the driver, but the van carried on and the right hand side of the van made contact with him knocking him to the ground and injuring him. This incident resulted him in having four months off work. Mr Orbell again suggested that Mr Budworth had not been knocked over, but had slipped. "Can you tell me how you can slip wearing shoes like these" revealing that he was wearing large "industrial" safety type footwear, asked Mr Budworth.
It was now the chance of Mr Butler to give his version of events. He stated that he arrived at the green gate between 8-8:30 am. His normal route is to come in through the Green gate and go straight down the road ahead of him. There was a drop down barrier about 100 yards from the green gate. There was a large white van passing through the barrier. He attempted to follow the traders van when Mr Dodds said you are not going any further and dropped down the barrier on his bonnet. "I must admit, I did loose my temper, I did possible swear at him". "I got out of my vehicle, I lifted up the barrier and said I'm going round, I will see the dog show organisers later". He parked up, and collected his catalogue and on returning to his van drove across the grass and into the restricted area of the main showground. Mr Butler then maintains that he then drove to the area by the main ring and not to the south were all the other witnesses alleged they had seen him. He was stationary for about 5-10 minutes opened the back doors, gave the dogs some water and walked them down Presidents way. The first people he noticed were in a large white van, he didn't know who they were, so he decided that the should put them back in his van.
They were walking towards him, but he didn't know what they wanted. They told him that he wasn't allowed in that area. He replied that he didn't' want to speak to them he wanted to speak to the dog show organiser who hadn't arrived yet. Then two other people arrived which he later understood were Mr Dinnis and Mr Smith, in a 4x4 and asked him to leave. "Were you abusive to them" "No Sir". "Do you recall one of the gentleman saying he was going to call the Police?" "Yes I do recall that I said I have paid my entry fee, it's a lot of money and I am not prepared to leave and I am not prepared to leave till I have seen Mrs Crocker (The Show Secretary)". "I think he replied that I would have to see Mrs Crocker outside the show venue." Mr Butler then stated that all four people left and he was left alone. he decided that he had to go to the dog show to report what had happened. "At no time did I drive recklessly or at speed. I have driven the length and breadth of England and at no time have I had any problems with any show organisers or any security staff before."
"When you got back to the barrier what did you do" Mr Butler replied that he got out, lifted up the barrier without any trouble and got back into the van, stopped the other side and put the barrier down again. Mr Butler then said that Mr Harness then started hammering at the window and then at the side of the van. It was at this point that Mr Budworth appeared placing his hands on the bonnet of the van. "I was trying to get away from Mr Harness the groundsman and I was trying to get away from him (Mr Budworth), the vehicle was in gear and was moving forward very slowly. He (Mr Budworth), walked from the front of my vehicle round to the side of my vehicle, it was muddy, it was wet in that area and he just must have slipped, that's the only explanation I can put forward, he was trying to walk backwards and slipped."
"Mr Budworth had slipped to the side, so I drove straight out of the green gate and parked on the main road, Drove Lane." Now why did you park in Drove Lane?" Asked Mr Obell, "Well I was a little bit concerned about this guy who had fallen over, so I walked back to the gate, I watched him get up to his feet unaided and started walking in towards the showground with Mr Harness beside him." "As soon as I had seen that he was walking unaided I thought it best to go and see Mrs Crocker." Mr Butler then walked back into the venue and into the Crocker Halls. Mrs Crocker still hadn't arrived and there was no one at the desk other than the secretary. Mr Butler then decided that "enough was enough" and he decided to go home, walking out of the showground. It was when he was walking along Drove Lane that a Newark and Notts Police Officer came along and arrested him. After seeing that his dogs would be OK left in the van, Mr Butler was taken to the police station where he made a statement. Mr Butler was then bailed and after that he was taken back to his van. The police officer then asked the man on the gate if Mr Butler could come back into the showground, this was denied and Mrs Crocker and the show manager, both said that they were unable to go against the advice of the security and the management of the showground, it was at that point that Mr Butler got back in his van and drove home.
Mr Evans then had a chance to cross examine Mr Butler. Mr Evans referred Mr Butler and the hearing to his lengthy four page written statement, which he referred back to the original charge. In his written evidence Mr Butler had stated that he had no doubt that he did use unpleasant language (to Mr Dodds). "I did not realise he was a member of the security staff". "Well what on earth was he doing controlling a traffic barrier and wearing a bright yellow jacket?" "I have no idea Sir". Elsewhere in his statement Mr Butler admitted that he had twice ignored requests from Mr Dodds to go no further thereby ignoring the traffic management plan in place at the Newark Showground. Mr Evans then stated that it was obvious that if you drove a vehicle forward when a person was standing in front of it that the likely result was that you were to knock them down and injure them. A lengthy exchange followed where Mr Butler claimed that the vehicle was creeping forward because he was being distracted and Mr Budworth was walking backwards. "Why did you suppose he was moving slowly backwards" "Because the vehicle was moving slowly forwards." "Exactly if he hadn't been moving backwards, you would have knocked him down even sooner." "No Sir". Mr Evans then referred the hearing to the letter from the Police confirming that no action was being taken, in which it states "He (Mr Butler) then said he drove slowly forward towards the gates and as a result Mr Bodworth fell to the ground." The above was a lengthy and detailed exchange in which Mr Butler disputed that he had done anything wrong and which Mr Evans referred him back to his own written evidence which confirmed in several areas that he had acted in a way consistent to the charges being made against him. After over half an hour of questioning the sub committee asked several questions by way of clarification and both legal representatives summed up their respective cases.
At approximately 5pm the meeting went into recess to consider their decision. On recall the hearing was told that the sub committee was upholding the complaint in full and after submission of character witnesses letters the meeting went into recess again for penalties to be considered.
After a short break, the meeting was again recalled and the following penalties were announced:-
The Committee impose the following penalties:
1. To warn him as to his future conduct. [(A42 j (1)]
2. To Censure him. [(A42 j (2)]
3. To Fine him the sum of £500. [A42 j (3)]
4. To suspend him from exhibiting at, taking part in, attending and/or having any connection with any event licensed by the Club. If any person suspended or disqualified under this sub-paragraph shall attend any canine event whilst suspended or disqualified the General Committee shall have the power to increase the period of suspension and/or disqualification. [A42 j (4)]
5. To Disqualify him from being or becoming a member of any canine club or society registered with or affiliated to the Kennel Club. [A42 j (5)]
6. To suspend him from acting as an officer or serving on the committee of any canine society. [A42 j (6)]
7. To disqualify him from taking part in the management of any event licensed by the Club. [A42 j (7)]
8. To disqualify her from judging at any event licensed by the Club. [A42 j (8)]
The suspension and disqualifications are for a period of five (5) years from 24th June 2004.
The committee following the impositions of these penalties, would draw the attention of the Respondent/s to the effect of Rule A42 sub-sections l and n.
The Disciplinary Sub Committee was made up of Mrs Irene Terry as Chairman, Miss Jean Lanning, Mr John Banbury, Mr Bill King, Mr Stan Ford and Mr Steve Young