Exhibitor 'swore' at breed club show judge
by Paul Keevil
A Chow Chow breeder and exhibitor, who it was alleged was verbally abusive to the judge at the end of a breed club open show, walked away from a KC Disciplinary Rule A42 hearing last week with only a warning, despite the complaint being upheld.
Mrs Maureen Dore of Cambridge, Glos, brought the complaint against Mr Keith Hand of Radcliffe, Manchester, following an alleged incident at the end of the Northern Counties Chow Chow Open Show on July 2nd 2000.
The hearing did not take place in the usual venue of the KC board room, as due to the internal refurbishment taking place at Clarges Street, another venue was required. The hearing took place at The Lansdowne Club, just a few minutes walk away. In attendance, in addition to the six members of the Disciplinary Sub Committee and witnesses, were Mrs Linda Branwhite, the KC Disciplinary co-ordinator, Liz Hartley, from the KCs solicitors, acting as an observer and members of the Canine Press. Additionally Mr Hand had Mr and Mrs Cross in attendance to give assistance and advice, but neither were called as witnesses.
Mrs Dore opened the proceeding with a short statement and then went into the details of the incident which resulted in her bringing the complaint. She had finished judging the entry of dogs at the NCCCC Open Show at approximately 3:50pm and was sitting on the stage with some of the club committee with a cup of coffee, prior to her long drive home. It was at this point that Mr Keith hand approached the stage. As several of the people on the stage were smoking, Mrs Dore offered Mr Hand a cigarette, he indicated that he was smoking a cigar and Mrs Dore joked How the other half live. They both laughed. Mr Hand then said What was wrong with my dogs then?. Mrs Dore felt that as several of the people on the stage and within earshot were judges of the breed, Mrs Dore replied I will discuss this when we are on our own. It was alleged that Mr Hands then said I have had three firsts today:
Its the first time Ive had 3 thirds. Its the first time Ive been thrown out with the rubbish and
Its the first time I have been under a F***ing Crap Judge.
Mrs Dore stated that she was totally taken aback and did not answer, but turned away from him, Mr Hand also turned and walked away. The incident really upset Mrs Dore. The Club secretary, who was sitting next to the judge, called the President over and told him what had just happened. Several of the committee told Mrs Dore not to worry about Mr Hand. This concluded Mrs Dores evidence.
Mr Hand then had the chance to ask questions. These included questions relating to her written statement, which was not read out at the hearing, but had been submitted in writing prior to the case. Mr Hand stated that he approached the stage to speak to the Secretary to thank her for the show. Mrs Dore was in deep conversation with Mrs Heyes the Secretary. Mr Hand then alleged that Mrs Dore then said to him how are you today, to which Mr Hand maintains that his reply was:
No better for the three firsts you gave me today. Its the first time she has ever been thrown out
Its the first time I have ever got a fourth and its the first time I have ever got a third.
Mr Hand then asked. If it were suggested by Mrs Hayes that I apologise and/or we sort out what was said or what was meant, would that have been sufficient?
No it would not
The members of the sub-committee than had a chance to ask questions of Mrs Dore. In reply to Mr Young, Mrs Dore confirmed that she had been in Chows for 35 years, judged the breed since 1984 and had judged 2 club open shows. In reply to Mr Banbury, Mrs Dore confirmed that she had awarded Mr Hands dogs two thirds and a fourth place. Mr Banbury then pointed out that this was a hearing concerning an allegation of verbal abuse and that the sub-committee have been told very little about it. Mrs Dore was asked if she would confirm exactly what the abuse consisted of: I have said in my evidence that Mr Hand said, and it is the first time I have even been under a F***ing Crap Judge. And is that all he said of an abusive nature? asked Mr Banbury. Yes was the reply.
Mrs Dore then called her first witness, Mrs Jean Heyes from Wigan, the Secretary of the Midland Counties Chow Chow Club, who had been with her on the stage at the time of the incident and had heard the exchange between the two people. She had written some of it down at the time of the incident as it had shocked her to hear and exhibitor speak to a judge like that and she later wrote a report in the incident book. She had heard Mr Hand remark about three firsts and the version recalled by Mrs Heyes was;
This is the first time my bitch has ever been in this position The first time she has ever been knocked
And the first time I have ever been under an F***ing Crap Judge.
Mr Hand then walked away and Mrs Dore was in a dreadful state really upset by the incident. Mrs Heyes stated that in all the time she had known Mr Hand, she had never heard him speak like that.
In reply to questions from Mr Hand, Mrs Heyes denied that she had ever objected to Mr Hand being nominated for the committee because I dont like the man., quite the reverse in fact as she maintained that she had approached Mr Hand who had stated that he didnt have the time to go on to committees. Mr Hand pointed out that the whole case revolved around one word, a word he said that he never used.
When asked to comment on rumours that Mrs Dore had been pushed into making the complaint she replied Definitely not - I dont think so.
Miss Lanning asked if the witness thought that Mr Hand was in a temper. No.
Mr Banbury then asked if Mr Hands had just used this phrase once and if that was all that was said of an abusive nature. Mrs Heyes stated that she heard Mr Hands use the F word twice. In reply to a comment by the judge about the age of his bitch, it was alleged that Mr Hand had replied Well what would you expect, she is on F months old.
Mrs Terry asked the witness about Mr Hands manner, when he approached the stage. He was fine at first, it was just when he used that word, to coin a phrase, he lost it.
Mr Young asked the witness about the general atmosphere at the show. There was a good atmosphere at the show everything was fine, right up to this moment in time at the end of the show.
The next witness was Mr Brian McAteer of Rochdale, Chairman of the NCCCC. He had been working in the kitchen at the show, when Mrs Heyes had asked him to come to the top table to see the judge, as there had been an incident. He arrived on the stage at the same time as the President, when he was that one of the exhibitors had been very intimidating towards her Mrs Dore looked very upset and distressed and had asked Mr McAteer to accompany her to her car. Mr McAteer had not been present at the time of the alleged incident, but Mrs Dore had repeated word for word what had been said.
The next wittiness was Miss Barbara Flavell of Ashton-under-Lyne. She stated that she was on the stage at the time of the incident, but had left the stage to pack her cage and had not heard the actual exchange between the two people. She had been an exhibitor in the same class as Mr Hands and had been placed 4th to Mr Hands 3rd. Mr Hands had left the ring without his place card and she had taken his card to him, to which she said he said nothing.
Mr Hands asked the witness if during the 3/4 years she had know him, had she ever heard him swear. No.
The final witness was Mr W Heyes of Whelley, Wigan, husband of Mrs Heyes the Club Secretary and President of the NCCCC. He also arrived after the alleged incident and did not hear the exchange between the judge and Mr Hand. He did state however that Mrs Dore was very upset by the incident and that as she had attended the show alone she had asked the Chairman, Mr McAteer to accompany her to her car, to avoid another possible confrontation. After the meeting the committee had a meeting to discuss the matter and asked Mrs Dore if she wanted to take the matter further, which she did.
In reply to Mr Hands, Mr Heyes stated that the meeting was not a proper official Committee meeting and although no official minutes were produced, the proceedings were noted, to be kept on file, but the Committee members were not distributed with these notes. Following a further committee meeting about 2 months after the show, a letter, warning Mr Hands as to his future conduct was sent by the club.
In reply to questions from the sub-committee, Mr Heyes confirmed that he had no first hand knowledge of the incident as he was not present, that the first meeting was a special committee meeting and there had been at least one committee member absent.
Statements were then read out from Maureen Davis, the ring steward at the show, Mrs Patricia Hooton and Mrs Jade Marr, the latter two being sent direct to the committee and not Mrs Dore. The hearing then broke for lunch.
In the afternoon Mr Hand had the chance to present his version of events. By way of background, he stated that he had not been showing dogs very long, about 4+ years. He came into dogs, he said with out any expectations what so ever. I can honestly say, I never come away disappointed from a show because I never go expecting anything. If I get a prize, it is a bonus This is a day out, I gave up fishing to do this. On the day, I wasnt going to go. I had a litter of puppies, which were about 4 weeks old, we had hand reared them. I was unaware of any conflict throughout the day whatsoever. In the written evidence submitted to the committee, Mr Hand referred to comments made like the look of defiance and the towering over. Well if you see me stood up, I am 68 tall I weigh 23 stone, yes, I suppose to a lot of people, I am intimidating. I say to those that are intimated by me, take a little time to know me, you will have a nice surprise. I am very upset by these accusations. I think I have demonstrated quite well today by asking the witnesses for Mrs Dore whether that is me. Do not deny that in the heat of the moment, I responded to something that I didnt think was just. But I didnt swear. I am quite proud of my diction and my education and I think I can do far far better to get my point across than to use words like that. Explaining the incident when he left the ring without his 3rd place card, Mr Hand explained that this was the first time for a while that he had attended a show by himself. He had a young black bitch in a cage and she had started yapping as this was the first time ever she had been left alone. When the place cards were given out as he was not required for a critique, he immediately left the ring to look after his bitch. When Miss Flavell gave him his prize card, he said oh thank you very much., then took his bitch outside to compose her as she was in again in two classes time.
He explained that it is usually his custom to thank the secretary after a show and that is why he approached the stage on this day.. Mrs Heyes was in deep conversation with Mrs Dore and he waited for this to finish. Mrs Dore offered him a cigarette and asked how he was today. I felt, in for a penny in for a pound and flippantly I replied, No better for the three firsts you gave me. Mrs Dore said I didnt give you three firsts today. I said, its the first time she has been thrown out, the first time she has got a fourth and the first time she has got third. I was expecting her to say, well she is not really my type, which I would have said well fair enough, end of story. I said, if you dont like my dogs, well fine, oh but I do said Mrs Dore. That is when I thought how can some one say that that like your dogs when they have thrown you out. He then alleged he said Dont go down that avenue please because if that is the case then it is all crap.
Mr Hands maintained that that was the one word that he used. He then followed up by saying, No, fine, I am perfectly prepared to accept that you know better than all the judges that have given her prizes in the past. With that, he spun on his heel and walked out. That was the start and the end of the situation as he was aware, he was totally unaware than Mrs Dore was upset and didnt find out till some 6 weeks later, through a fellow exhibitor saying, whats this I have heard about you and The Kennel Club? You have been shouting at a judge and chasing her across car parks. No not me. Yes it was at Northern Counties, then it clicked. The following day he phoned Mrs Heyes and asked if he had been reported to The Kennel Club?. Not by us was the reply. By anyone? Well I dont think Mrs Dore is very happy with you. Mr Hands then asked why, to which Mrs Heyes repeated his alleged remarks. Well what am I to do? Well I think an apology is in order. So he wrote a letter to Mrs Dore saying that it had come to his attention, that I had upset her and this was not his intention. He also suggested that his size may have been intimidating, for that he apologised and that was the start and the end of the situation as far as he was concerned and he heard no more until the letter from The Kennel Club arrived.
In questions from Mrs Dore she referred to Mr Hands written evidence, in which he referred to A confrontation and to seeing red. Isnt it true that on the day, you were after just one more Junior Warrant point. Not one, but three. Had it been the week before, perhaps, but as it was, she was now over a year and I had another 6 months to get three points. I dont know why you have brought this case Mrs Dore. You could bring me the biggest bible you could produce that that one word was not said. You can chose any other word that you like. There are perhaps 4 or 5 words in the English language that I would not use and that is one of them.
Mrs Dore then referred the meeting to a letter written to the Kennel Club on another occasion, regarding judging at the Chow of the Year Show where Mr Hand complained bitterly about the judge on that occasion. The implication being that Mr Hand was a person who did not like not winning and was likely to say things to a judge to let them know what he felt. It was also revealed that Mr Hand had also written to the judge of the Chow of the Year show in a similar vein.
Further exchanges followed between Mrs Dore and Mr Hand regarding these letters before the Chairman intervened.
In questions from the sub committee Mr Hand confirmed that he co-owned 4 Chows and that his young bitch was his most successful dog he had so far and that at the time of the incident she was about 13 months old.
Both parties then summed up their respective cases. Mrs Dore said that she felt that Mr Hand had gone far beyond what is acceptable, he went beyond the bounds of decency and accepted practice. in plain English, he lost it.
In summing up Mr Hand once again stated that he did not use foul language to the judge at the NCCCC show and that the likelihood of him doing so, on the basis of the witnesses was remote.
The meeting then went into recess for 30 minutes to reach their decision. When recalled the hearing was told that the complaint was upheld, where upon a further recess was taken to decide on what penalties were to be applied. After only a short break, all parties were called back into the room to be told that Mr Hand would only be subject to a warning and a censure for this incident.
Due to the lack of facilities a full written judgement was not available to the parties at the end of the hearing as is customary. This was due to be released on Tuesday morning, together with the reasons for the decision reached by the sub-committee, as will not be the practice in view of the implications of the European Human Rights Act and its directives.
The Disciplinary Sub Committee was made up of Mr Bernard Hall as Chairman, Miss Jean Lanning, Mr John Banbury, Mrs Irene Terry and Mr Keith Young.
The KC press release said:
Mrs Dore said in evidence to the Committee at the hearing on 10 January 2001 and in her statement in support of her complaint that at the conclusion of the show she was sitting on the stage with the Secretary of the Northern Counties Chow Chow Open Show, Mrs Jean Heyes and with Ms Barbara Flavell, a member of the Northern Counties Chow Chow Club. Mrs Dore said in her oral evidence that in addition two people were standing behind her on the stage and two in front but no evidence was given by either party that these people had overheard the exchange between Mrs Dore and Mr Hand.
Mrs Dore gave her evidence and then Mrs Dore produced a number of witnesses to give evidence at the hearing. Of these witnesses, only Mrs Jean Heyes who was sitting next to Mrs Dore said that she heard what Mr Hand said to Mrs Dore. She confirmed the account of the conversation given by Mrs Dore. Ms Barbara Flavell, who sat next to Mrs Heyes, heard part but not all of the conversation as she left, according to her evidence, when Mr Hand became angry. The President and Chairman of the Northern Counties Chow Chow Dog Club gave evidence that they were asked to come and see Mrs Dore immediately after the incident and gave evidence that she was very distressed. However, they did not hear the exchange and their evidence was not taken into account by the Committee in reaching their decision.
Mr Hand gave evidence and produced a number of statements as to his character but no witnesses who were able to corroborate his own account as to what he claimed to have said to Mrs Dore.
The Committee preferred the evidence of Mrs Dore and Mrs Heyes to that given by Mr Hand and were satisfied that Mrs Dores and Mrs Heyes evidence was a truthful account of the conversation.
The Committee has had cause in previous cases to state that abusive and intimidatory behaviour towards a Judge is not acceptable and views it with the utmost seriousness. It is our duty to protect the integrity of Judges. Any person who feels aggrieved by a judges decision has the right to lodge a complaint in the appropriate manner.
Reference was made during the hearing to an apology which was written by Mr Hand to Mrs Dore after the complaint had been lodged with the Secretary of the Kennel Club. The Committee believed that although the apology referred to his confrontation with Mrs Dore, rather than his verbal abuse of her, the Committee felt that the parties could have perhaps resolved this complaint by an appropriate apology on the facts of this case. If a proper apology had been extended to and accepted by Mrs Dore, the hearing may have been averted. These observations are not intended to downplay the Kennel Clubs stance on incidents of intimidation towards judges. The intimidation of judges is a serious matter and will be treated as such by the Committee.