|Exhibitor’s suspension quashed
Kennel Club - the saga continues
With the Kennel Club's regular SGM (or Bi-annual Meeting as it used to be known) taking place in London next week on 6th November, there have this week been two further developments which may have some bearing on the proceedings there.
OUR DOGS believes that Melanie Spavin's appeal against the severity of her treatment at the hands of the KC Disciplinary Committee has been successful. The original hearing was chaired in June by Mark Cocozza. As we go to press, OUR DOGS understands that the Kennel Club's Appeal Tribunal set up by the KC Board to hear the appeal against her suspension, having considered the written evidence and the submissions by her lawyer, has found in her favour.
In fact Melanie Spavin's need to attend the appeal hearing set to be held on October 31st was apparently cancelled at the KC's own suggestion, and the Appeals Tribunal has now accepted that the merits of Ms Spavin's appeal were such that it has overturned the original decision.
We can also confirm that Appeals Tribunal has decided that Ms Spavin should not have been disqualified from exhibiting and judging for the period up to 11th March next year, and it has ruled that only the original warning and censure should remain.
Readers will recall that there was a huge public outcry when Ms Spavin was not only warned and censured for her actions at the Manchester Show in January of this year, but she was also given a very unusual ban of eight months and thirteen days. The vast majority of observers felt at the time that such a punishment was disproportionate, and the KC Appeals Tribunal seems now to have agreed with that view.
OUR DOGS comments on this turn of events appear in our leader on page 8, inside.
Call to remove directors
The other development occurred last weekend when Meg Purnell-Carpenter, on behalf of herself and Robert Harlow, contacted KC Members asking them if they want to call for a further Special General Meeting, at which resolutions could be put under the terms of the Companies Act, to remove three Directors from the KC Board.
Many KC Members had in fact expressed surprise that the three Directors concerned, Messrs Luxmoore, Cocozza and Horswell, had chosen to remain in their Board posts despite being asked by their colleagues to consider their three named chairmanship positions and despite resigning these posts.
If a call for a such a meeting is accepted by enough KC Members (75 is the required minimum number) three separate resolutions will call for Messrs Luxmoore, Cocozza and Horswell to be removed from office as directors of the Kennel Club Ltd. Of course, it will later be open to members to vote either for or against each of these resolutions, as they so choose.
The letter to members headed: 'Changes needed at the Kennel Club' explains that Meg Purnell-Carpenter had previously written to fellow Kennel Club Members a few weeks ago requesting agreement to a Special General Meeting to discuss votes of no confidence in the Chairman of the Board, the Chairman of the Disciplinary Committee and the Chairman of the JCF Working Party.
She comments in her most recent letter:
"As members will be aware the initial reaction of the Kennel Club Board was to reject the request for a meeting on the grounds that the requisition had been incorrectly prepared and that it did not have sufficient support from the members….The Board decided to seek an external review of this request from Farrer & Co, Solicitors, although at this point in time it is not clear why the validation of a factual process could not have been carried out by the Clubs in-house legal officer. It has been suggested on various social media outlets that the request was not legally constituted and it is clear that these unofficial announcements … perhaps better described as breaches of confidentiality ….. were orchestrated by certain Board Members to discredit the SGM request. Unfortunately these social media 'leaks' were picked up by the press, which in turn meant that the process and discontent was then played out in two national newspapers (the Mail and the Times)".
Mrs Purnell-Carpenter says: "Eventually an agreement was reached with the existing Kennel Club Board to add the resignation resolutions, requested for the SGM, to the agenda for the forthcoming already scheduled Special General meeting on November 6th. In the intervening period pressure has continued to grow on the three named individuals and following a recent KC Board meeting a vote was taken asking them to resign their positions.
"Following more discussions, it was then announced by the Kennel Club Board that the resignations of Simon Luxmoore as Board Chairman, Mark Cocozza as Disciplinary Committee Chairman and Jeff Horswell as Chairman of the JCF Working Party were confirmed. However, very disappointingly these three individuals chose to remain as Kennel Club Directors and Mr Cocozza continues in his role as the Chairman of the Finance Committee.
Not far enough
"Although we are pleased that some limited action appears to have been taken in response to our requests, we are extremely disappointed that it has not gone as far as we would have wished. The concerns of members and the wider KC-regulated dog community extend beyond the three specific roles from which these individuals resigned."
Mrs Purnell-Carpenter explains that the intentions in calling for the original votes of no confidence had been clear and that if the votes had succeeded at an SGM, they would have then expected the three individuals not only to step down from the respective Chairman roles, but also: "to resign as directors of the Board and also from all other Committees, thus releasing the Kennel Club from continuing public controversy."
She expresses disappointment in her letter that this has not happened but adds that, based on legal advice, an option still available is to call for a new Special General Meeting at which more formal proposals could be put requiring the three Directors to step down completely and this allow the Board to move on.
Other Board Directors
She continues: "Having spoken with a number of other Board Directors who support our cause, they are determined to ensure stability and good leadership are restored now as quickly as possible. We therefore now need your support again to enable the Board to get back on track and to help them to take back control of our much-loved Club and hobby.
"To this end a great many of our fellow Members are still calling for the removal of the three named Directors from the Board and all other Committees. This is what they had expected would happen in normal circumstances. It would have put a stop to the prolonging of the public dissatisfaction, which is not good for the Kennel Club and would have allowed the remaining Board to move on."
Thanks were then reiterated to the 500+ members who had responded to the previous letter with messages of support for an SGM and it was said my Mrs Purnell Carpenter that large numbers of people are saying that: "enough is enough" and that both KC members and non-Members no longer want to: "tolerate the actions and behaviours of the erstwhile senior regime."
Confidentiality and trust
For those who may be afraid to put their names publicly to this proposal Mrs Purnell Carpenter says that while the requisition for an SGM must include the names of at least 5% of members: "We know there are others who wish to support us, but who would prefer at this point not to be "named" on the requisition. We promise to respect those concerns and assure you that if you supply us with your name indicating that you wish not to be named, we will ensure complete confidentiality."
She concludes by saying: "We need to re-establish confidence and trust between the Kennel Club Board, the Members, the Staff and also the non-members, that we believe has been severely damaged by the actions of these three Directors. Whatever happens, I can only repeat what I said in my original letter to KC Members that, as otherwise normally very loyal Kennel Club Members, we have pursued these actions entirely in the interests of the Kennel Club and the many people who take part in KC-regulated activities".
As we go to press, OUR DOGS is aware that Kennel Club members have been sent a letter by interim Chairman Mr Steve Croxford.
For OUR DOGS' comments please turn to our Opinion Column on page eight of this week's issue.