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Chairman’s warning over biased judging

Dishonesty will always be found out, says Irving

THE KC Chairman has again spoken out on the subject of biased judging, and has given his clearest warning yet that reported cases based on clear evidence will be subject to further investigation.

However, in his latest From the Chairman, Ronnie Irving also pointed out that complaints based on ‘hearsay’ or ‘rumour’ would have to be carefully separated from genuine cases, in order that cases of deliberate bias could be addressed more thoroughly by the governing body. He also insists that judges who do deliberately ‘indulge in unjustifiable bias’ should always remember that they are doubtless being watched over by a large group of ringsiders, who will in nearly all cases be ‘judging the judge’!

Cases of complaints againsts judging and judging habits, though rare, have been in the spotlight recently following the KC’s public cry that bad or biased judging can been - and perhaps has been - the reason that some breeds have found themselves in a less than favourable position concerning conformation, health and welfare. Only recently German Shepherd Dog judges were called to task and given a very stark warning that putting up animals with conformation faults or exaggerations would lead to yet more chaos for the breed, which has had its ccs allocation withheld for 2012.

Examples which he re-iterated were instances of judges putting up dogs belonging to friends, judges who use dogs at stud and then are seen to reward its progeny, owners who reward exhibitors who have used the judge’s stud dogs and ‘rings’ of judges who consistently favour each other’s exhibits. He said, however, that ‘all of those accusations are made and it is easy to be drawn into believing that such accusations are all true.’

The difficulty appears to be dividing errant judging from a judge who simply judges to type, where it can easily appear that a kennel or exhibitor is favoured, when in fact placings could be perfectly logical under correct judging procedures.

The articles continues: ‘Another reason is that such seeming trends can become self-perpetuating. if there is perceived to be a ‘syndicate’ of judges in a breed, then those who see themselves as outside that syndicate refrain from entering. So, only dogs from the syndicate will be present - and they are almost bound to win, even if only by default.’

Another point was that some judges may not even recognise they have any bias, a fact which is to some extent excusable.


‘What is inexcusable, however,’ he continues, ‘is the judge who exercises his bias deliberately. The judge who eliminates a dog because it is a strong competitor of their own dog in some league table of winners; or the judge who puts up a dog one day in the hope that its owner will put up their dog a few weeks later.’

Mr Irving told readers that the worst form of cases reported to him, almost always in confidence and often lacking any facts, usually concern collections of judges in a specific breed or group, who do this and then brag about what they do to others. ‘The original act is as unacceptable as the boasting is stupid and in the end such people will undoubtedly come to grief. If such stories are making their way back to me, then you can rest assured that they are getting back to members of the KC Judges Sub Committee. none of these live in a cocoon and all have great experience of the world of dogs and are capable of making their own judgments... persistent rumours about a judge - or a ring of judges - will undoubtedly be viewed by the Judges Sub Committee at least with suspicion, if not maybe even revulsion and action.’

The way forward, it seems, is for the KC to encourage ‘victims’ to come forward with hard evidence of wrongdoing, though a more practical alternative would be to make sure that the integrity of judges and those who appoint them ‘remains of the highest importance when judges are being trained, developed and approved.’

The article ends with words which will doubtless gain approval from many exhibitors countrywide: ‘Those who consciously reward dogs for the wrong reasons should realise that the average exhibitor is not stupid. Very often a perception of dishonesty turns out to be reality, and in the long run dishonest judges are found out. I hope that there is some truth in the much quoted cliché that if you give them enough rope, they’ll eventually hang themselves.’
At a time when all eyes appear, once again, to be on the KC, there will be few who can argue with that!

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