A first for A42 case
Second time around sees verbal abuse penalties cut
In a case which effectively was the first of its kind the Kennel Club Disciplinary Sub Committee re-examined a past Rule A42 case decision last week cutting in half the penalties set out in its initial findings of last October.
The case was first heard in committee on October 25th last year after they had had formal and written complaints from officers of the Slough Canine Society following an incident at their open show on February 4th 2007.
The complaint brought by the Kennel Club under Rule A42a(1)(b) of its constitution said that ' Mr Philip Charles Downes behaved discreditably and prejudicially to the interests of the canine world in that he has repeatedly engaged in threatening and abusive behaviour at the Slough and District Canine Society open show held on 4th February 2007
Three lots of paperwork had been sent the the respondent in the run up to the committee hearing of the case but he claimed that none had arrived at his address in Langley, near Slough.
Last week Mr Downes claimed, in the afternoon of what was an eight hour session at the Clarges Street headquarters, that the first he had heard of the decision to warn, censure and ban him from KC licensed events for ten years was when he saw the announcement in the dog press last November. This, he said, was not the way that justice should be meted out to people for whom dog showing was a hobby.
The case for the Kennel Club was put by counsel Mr Martin Evans and Mr Downes represented himself at the hearing. There was formidable list of witnesses from both sides and the committee's attention was brought to the detailed statements held on file and presented on the day.
As the witnesses for the Kennel Club case, which included the show secretary, show manager, show assistant , a show judge, a ring steward and a former society secretary, took to the stand it was clear that two specific incidents had given rise to the alleged heated exchanges at the show.
In one a society member had been touting for new members and had asked Mr Downes whether or not he was a member. On been told 'no' the member had persisted pressing home the point that there was a 50p reduction in entry fees for members. Mr Downes was unimpressed and said that it seemed like a poor deal to him as the society only ran one show each year and didn't even have any ring craft or training nights.
It was after this that Mr Downes was said to have been abusive and to have raised his voice at the secretary's table at the show's venue the Montem Leisure Centre, Slough. The verbal abuse was the worst that Mr Alan S Wood, a judge at the show, had witnessed in all his years of being involved at shows as an official, exhibitor or a judge.
Show secretary on the day Liz Fisher said she was intimidated by Mr Downes' behaviour which was witnessed by the show manager and a show assistant.
But it was later in the day when a dog was transferred into a class in which his wife was showing a Bullmastiff that prompted Mr Downes to return to the secretary to asked why a Junior age dog had been allowed to transfer from the AV Working Junior to the AV Working Open class.
On checking with the steward in the ring Mr Downes had been referred back to the secretary who had looked at her records and had noted a transfer slip indicating that the dog was put into the open class as its owner had allegedly make a mistake on the entry form. Although this had been done at the owner's request Mr Downes contested that the age of the dog in the catalogue was correct as he knew the dog and had seen its details correct in other catalogues.
It was, said Mr Downes to the committee, a simple expedient to ensure that only society members had the first three places in the class.
Not content with any explanations Mr Downes said that he would report the matter to the Kennel Club as it was contrary to show rules and regulations. It was this point that his behaviour became loud and abusive according to the Kennel Club's witnesses, so bad in fact, that the venue's security guard and manager were called to 'escort' Mr Downes from the premises.
Presenting his side of the case and his version of what happened on the day Mr Downes called on his wife Mrs Jackie Downes who was the first of his three witnesses. She confirmed they had arrived late at the show on February 4th which contradicted the statements of the show officials all whom had said the first heated exchanges had taken place before judging at the show had taken place.
Mrs Downes also said that it was busy and noisy venue and that it was necessary to speak up to be heard. She said that her husband's concerns had been met with indifference. Neither she, a friend Mr Maroney nor Mrs Alison Bond Mr Downes' mother, had experienced anything untoward at the show - only a number discussions at the secretary's table prompted by the events which had been tirelessly examined in some detail before.
With the long case clock in the boardroom ticking towards 5.45pm the whole case was summarised for the Kennel Club by counsel Mr Martin Evans.
It was, said Mr Evans, tragic that Mr Downes' attitude to the 'membership salesman' was so hostile over £3 a small amount of money in his eyes. In addition the early afternoon events had been so disturbing to many of the officials that they felt threatened and felt it necessary to call security to defuse the situation. The simple fact was that something DID take place at the show that day, said Mr Evans, and he drew particular attention to the statements and verbal evidence of the young ring steward Miss Matthews, a former KCJO (YKC) member and to that of Mrs Ella Eva who said that she felt 'affronted and confronted' by the contratemps saying that 'this was awful'. Why, asked Mr Evans with his limited knowledge of dog shows, would anyone want a Junior dog to compete in a class with dogs of a greater maturity? There was nothing to be gained from this.
In his defence Mr Downes said that he was not the 'evil monster' he had been painted. He pointed out the inconsistencies in the written statements from the show officials and that one on the Kennel Club's witnesses there that day could not even confirm that it was him (Mr Downes) who was seen in discussions with officials at the secretary's table. He also pointed to the statement from the manager of the show venue which said that far from being 'marched out' of the show that day he had fully cooperated with him and the security guard. The manager had also said in writing that in his view Mr Downes' behaviour that day would not exclude him from any events held at that venue.
Having deliberated the committee upheld the complaint, reflecting the same penalties as before but for a period of five year back dated to October 25th 2007.
The DSC comprised Mrs Jenny Ziman, Mr Simon Luxmoore, Mr Roy Page, Mr Steve Croxford, Mr Wilson Young and Chairman Mr Bill King.
Disciplinary Sub Committee Hearing
29 April 2008
The Kennel Club –v- Mr P C Downes
Kennel Club Rule A 42
The Committee having carefully considered the evidence, find that the complaint brought by the Kennel Club under Kennel Club Rule A42 a (1) (b) against
Mr P C Downes namely that he behaved discreditably or prejudicially to the interests of the canine world in that he repeatedly engaged in threatening and abusive behaviour at the Slough and District Canine Society Open Show held on 4 February 2007, is upheld.
The behaviour complained of, namely threatening, abusive conduct and putting people in fear is totally unacceptable and cannot be tolerated at Kennel Club licensed events.
Dog shows are an activity open to all and those attending and those who voluntarily give their time and effort in managing the shows are entitled to do so without intimidation, fear or threat.
The Committee impose the following penalties:
1 To warn him to his future conduct [A42 j(1)]
2 To censure him [A42 j (2)]
3 To disqualify him from exhibiting at, taking part in, attending
and/or having any connection with any event licensed by the Club. If any person disqualified under this sub-paragraph shall
attend any canine event whilst disqualified the General
Committee shall have the power to increase the period of disqualification [A42 j (4)]
4 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)]
5 To disqualify him from acting as an Officer
or serving on the committee of any canine society [A42 j (6)]
6 To disqualify him from taking part in the management
of any event licensed by the club. [A42 j (7)]
7 To disqualify him from judging at any event licensed by the Club [A42 j (8)]
8 To disqualify him from effecting registrations of any or all dogs
and/or progeny of such dogs which are owned and/or registered by
him (whether or not jointly owned and/or whether or not owned
and/or registered in the name of a nominee). [A42j ( 9)]
The suspensions and disqualifications are to be for a period of
Five (5) years from 25 October 2007.
The Committee, following the impositions of these penalties, would draw the attention of the Respondent/s to the effect of Rule A 42 sub-sections l and n.