The Kennel Club has written to all general championship show secretaries and chairmen to remind them of their responsibilities to adhere to its ‘best practice’ code regarding the selection of judges.
In an unprecedented move it has also acknowledged the presence of ‘judging rings’ and the pattern of ‘reciprocal’ judging appointments - a contentious subject often raised by OUR DOGS in the past and by breed correspondents in its columns.
The Kennel Club has also sought confirmation that committees are routinely following the code of best practice and in the letter seeks confirmation of this to strengthen their assertion and response to complaints that are received.
The letter comes just days after the early September general committee meeting and less than a week after the letter to Andrew Brace from the Kennel Club secretary reminding him of his collective responsibility on the KC Show Executive committee.
Mr Brace had criticised, in print, the announcement in July that enabled shows to admit spectators’ dogs to general championship shows and it was to this that the general committee presumably took exception. Brace then resigned from the committee and they lost a unique, and at times outspoken, ‘voice of the people’.
Last Monday the KC press office sent out the following press release, ‘The Kennel Club is sorry to have to record the resignation of Mr Andrew Brace from its Show Executive Sub Committee.
‘Mr Brace decided that his role as a journalist did not accord with his work on the Kennel Club sub-committee, since he felt that it interfered with his freedom to report as he wished on Kennel Club matters. The KC has had no option but to accept his resignation.
‘The Club wishes it to be known that Mr Brace’s contribution to its Show Executive Sub Committee over the past seven years has been greatly appreciated and will be missed.’
OUR DOGS obtained a copy of the letter sent to all general championship show secretaries and chairmen and reproduces it here:
‘One of the most frequently complained about issues raised with the office and with committee members at dog shows and other canine functions, is the appointment of judges at general championship shows and the contention that there appear to be a number of ‘reciprocal’ judging arrangements between certain championship show societies. These are sometimes described as ‘judging rings’.
‘The Kennel Club’s standard response to such comments is that we have recently published an agreed Code of Best Practice for the Selection of Judges which, if observed, prevents such alleged undesirable practices and renders such accusations as totally unfounded.
‘So as to give the Kennel Club confidence and add weight to its normal response, we are therefore writing this letter to the Chairman and Secretary of each General and Group Championship Show asking them for confirmation that their committee are routinely following this Code. Receipt of such confirmation would greatly enhance the strength of our assertion.
‘We fully understand that this is a very delicate issue which requires to be treated with care but it is obviously a great concern to many exhibitors and judges alike. This therefore requires us all to pay it the appropriate attention.
‘We feel sure that you will understand the reasons for writing and it is hoped that you will therefore be able to help us to give the appropriate reply on this subject to those many people who raise the issue with us, by confirming your Committee’s adherence to the appropriate Kennel Club Code of Best Practice.’
The letter, dated September 9th, was signed by the Kennel Club secretary Mrs Caroline Kisko.
Its receipt was met with a mixture of indignation and surprise by some Kennel Club members who are also officers and championship show judges, with some secretaries calling for a meeting to discuss the line to take with the Kennel Club’s robust approach to a problem which has enabled those who wish to abuse their lofty positions to further their judging careers.