A female exhibitor at last July's National Working & Pastoral Breeds Championship Dog Show, who admitted in writing to The Kennel Club that she made a rude gesture in the direction of other exhibitors after her Mastiff won its class, was warned and censured by the Disciplinary Sub Committee, and fined a total of £50 by the KC. Mrs Thelma Green, of Ross on Wye, Herefordshire did not attend the hearing but a doctors letter was provided by way of explanation of her absence.
The complaint was originally made at the show by nine exhibitors and spectators at the Malvern, but the complaint was nominally put to the Disciplinary Sub Committee by Mrs Elaine Knight of Aberdeenshire. The full complaint as heard last week reads, That she (Mrs T Green) behaved discreditably or prejudicially to the interests of the canine world in that she used repetitive obscene gestures to handlers and bystanders at the ringside for mastiffs at the National Working & Pastoral Breeds Championship Dog Show held on 20 July 2002 at the Three Counties Showground Malvern in Worcestershire.
Mrs Knight was not legally represented but was assisted during the hearing by fellow signatory to the original complaint and Mastiff exhibitor, Mr Robert Barker of Yateley, Hants.
No witnesses attended the hearing, but a number of statements were read out and referred to during the short mornings hearing. Also in attendance, in addition to the six members of the Disciplinary Sub Committee, were Mrs Linda Branwhite, the KC Disciplinary co-ordinator and members of the canine press.
Mrs Knight opened the proceedings by reading out her letter to the KC dated September 10th 2002 outlining her version of events.
We were at Ringside during the judging of Limit Bitch class. I was sitting near the corner of the rope section at the far end of the ring. My husband, Mr Knight, was standing a few feet behind me. Mrs Thelma Green was in the corner adjacent to where I sat, maybe fifteen feet away sitting on a chair.
There were 4 entrants in this class, one was bred by myself, another was Jengren Cassiopia who is owned by Mr & Mrs Green. The other two competitors were Mrs Pickering and Mrs Blaxter. The judge Mrs W L Hicks, awarded the first prize to Mrs Greens bitch. As the place cards were being given, a general round of applause started by those of us gathered at ringside. A loud shout aroused our attention to our right. Mrs Green had started a whooping sort of noise and was clapping loudly for her own bitch. Then, without any provocation, she proceeded to turn in her chair and look in our direction.
To our astonishment, she then isolated the two fingers on both hands. She raised them simultaneously, one hand to the exhibitors placed behind her bitch, the other in the direction at ringside. In doing this, she raised her hands from her knees to above her shoulders, in an exaggerated motion. She then lowered her hands back to her knees and repeated the gesture, once again, to above the shoulder height. Whilst doing this, she was laughing gleefully as if she was enjoying it immensely".
There is no doubt in our minds, that what she was doing is generally known as the V sign, which I believe is a public offence. We have no idea to what spurred this behaviour. I did notice that the families, or spouses of those who were beaten were all standing in the direction she was singling out. Mr Blaxter was alone at the show, but the Pickerings and Barkers were not. Mr Pickering, Mr & Mrs Barker and their children were all near us. The Barkers fourteen year old daughter, was handling for her parents and was most upset and confused to see an elderly pensioner act this way. I think it is a terrible example to a youngster, freshly starting in junior handling to have to witness.
Our own young children aged nine eleven and thirteen accompany us to dog show and we certainly do not want them to think that this sort of behaviour is acceptable.
We have been regulars on the show scene since 1987, travelling to every major show and in the last six years between us in our respective affixes bred five Mastiff champions. Never have we ever seen anyone act in such a low and loathsome manner at a KC licensed event.
I can only presume Mrs Green was displaying this act to say I won - you lost to those whom she directed this. There was quite a crowd, behind and surrounding her, so there is no doubt that she was observed by others.
We urge the Kennel Club not to condone or excuse this behaviour, which was so deliberately malicious. This is not the sportsmanlike manner, that is acceptable to anyone with a modicum of decency.
The letter was signed by both Mr and Mrs Knight.
At this point, the chairman Mr Bernard Hall asked for clarification as to what type of V was used. Was it the type of 'V' sign which Churchill used to do? No replied Mrs Knight, It was the other way to what Churchill used to, was the reply.
Mrs Knight then continued her case by reading out a statement from Mr Barker, confirming that his 14 year old daughter was handling their bitch in the class, who was placed fourth, with Mrs Green's bitch being placed first. the remainder of the statement confirmed what Mrs Knight had previously read out. There were several other statements to confirm Mrs Knights version of events which were brought to the attention of the hearing.
At this point the Chairman then read out a letter from Mrs Thelma Green, giving her version of the events. In this letter she did not deny making the gestures towards Mrs Knight and fellow exhibitors but gave an explanation as to how according to her, the situation arose.
Mrs Green described herself as a well brought up and old fashioned 68 year old who had never done this kind of thing before.
Whilst in the ring with her bitch, when the judge asked her to move the animal, she stated that she mis-stepped and tore the large muscle in the top of her left leg. Mr Steven West took charge of the dog, whilst she was assisted from the ring. When she reached her chair she was literally crying with pain. She then alleged in her letter that she noticed some people in the corner who found the whole situation very amusing and that is when according to Mrs Green she lost my self control and made the rude gesture. The letter continued I did not repeat it and at no time was it directed to any one in the ring and certainly not at any child.
Mrs Green claimed that she had to be carried out of the showground in a carry chair by the St John Ambulance and it took her several weeks to be able to walk without pain. No one could be more ashamed of themselves than I am for allowing myself to be provoked into this behaviour, finishes Mrs Green.
A second letter was then read out by the Chairman, this time from Helen Green (no relation). In this letter she alleged that Most of the Old English Mastiff exhibitors are aware of a long running campaign being waged by these people against Mrs Green. On the day in question, these people had been walking up and down past Mrs Green making snide remarks out loud (as usual) and Mrs Green had been trying to ignore them (as usual).
Helen Green then continues alleging that when Mrs Green left the ring in obvious pain these people were heard to be clapping and cheering the incident.
It was no surprise that Mrs Green finally made a single brief gesture in the direction of these people, who were obviously very amused at her predicament.
In the build up to the hearing, the response from Mrs Green was forwarded on to Mrs Knight for her comments, and a written reply was sent to the KC dated 24th November 2002. In her reply Mrs Knight disputed that Mrs Green has slipped but said that she could not manage to run her bitch.. She did not recall Mrs Green being assisted from the ring or collapsing into tears. She further stated that it was only when the prize cards were being given out that she alleged that Mrs Green began clapping and cheering and then stuck her fingers up - twice. Mrs Knight then went on to explain that in the last few years, they have stayed at each others houses, that their daughter used to handle Mrs Green's dogs for her, on one occasion, winning a CC. She refereed to us as her son and daughter - in law and our children as her grandchildren, publicly.
Other written statements were then read out from some of the other complainants, all of which agreed with Mrs Knights version of events
In questions from the committee, Stan Ford asked, To your knowledge has Mrs Green ever offered you an apology for her behaviour that day? It emerged that Mrs Green was willing to put an apology in the dog papers but that Mrs Knight was not willing to accept her apology as she had felt it had only been offered when a date had been fixed for the KC to hear the complaint. Mr Banbury asked if Mr Barkers 14 year old daughter understood the meaning of the gesture made by Mrs Green? I would say that every 14 year old child in the country would be fully aware of what it means, replied Mr Barker.
So, after one of the shortest Disciplinary Sub Committee hearings ever, taking just 45 minutes, the sub committee went into recess to consider their decision. After 30 minutes the meeting was recalled and the following statement was read out:
The committee having carefully considered the evidence, find that the complaint brought by Mrs E Knight under Kennel Club Rule A42a (1) (b) against Mrs Thelma Green namely that she behaved discreditably or prejudicially to the interests of the canine world in that she used repetitive obscene gestures to handlers and bystanders at the ringside for mastiff at the national Working and pastoral Breeds Championship Dog Show held on 20 July 2002 at the Three Counties Showground, malvern in Worcestershire, is upheld.
The Committee impose the following penalties:
1. To warn her as to her future conduct [(A42 j (1)]
2. To Censure her [(A42 j (2)]
3. To fine her the sum of £50 [(A42 j (3)]
The Committee, following the impositions of these penalties, would draw the attention of the Respondent to the effect of Rule A 42 sub-section 12.
While the Committee do not condone Mrs green's action they took notice of the fact that she admitted the offence and was prepared to offer an apology. Further, the Committee warn that such behaviour at shows is not acceptable.
The Disciplinary Sub-Committee comprised Mr Bernard Hall as Chairman, Miss Jean Lanning, Mr Eric Smethurst Mr John Banbury, Mrs Irene Terry and Mr Stan Ford.