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Gadsby appeal dismissed

Issue: 24/07/2020

240720-gadsby
Breeder, exhibitor and judge Mike Gadsby

In a case which may have passed many people by in lockdown during the Covid 19 crisis, well known breeder, exhibitor and judge Mike Gadsby has become embroiled in a dispute with the Kennel Club that raises more questions than answers. The case concerns a rule which many consider ‘nonsensical’ and restrictive. 
OUR DOGS understands that the Kennel Club Board last week rejected an appeal by Mike Gadsby against a decision of the KC Judges Committee. That Committee had decided some months ago to fine Mr Gadsby £50 and insist that he should attend a ‘Requirements of a Dog Show Judge’ seminar. 
The punishment had been imposed because he had judged at a so-called ‘partnership show’ held in conjunction with Darlington Championship Show in 2019 while a dog, jointly owned by him and two others, was unbeknown to him being exhibited at the main Darlington championship event. Partnership shows are defined as shows where the host club and other clubs share a venue and other facilities, and on this occasion the breed club involved was the Pennine and Scottish French Bulldog Association. The dog in joint ownership which was shown at Darlington was a Japanese Shiba Inu owned in partnership by Mr Gadsby with two other owners. 
KC Rules recently introduced state: “At partnership shows judges must not officiate at one show and enter or handle a dog for exhibition at the other show including exhibiting a different breed on another day to that which they are to judge”.

MEMBER OF THE PUBLIC

In appealing the Judges Committee decision Mr Gadsby did not deny that he had allowed an error to take place but maintained that this was a simple oversight. He had not been aware that the dog in question was even present or entered at Darlington Show, nor had the co-owners been aware in advance that he was judging at a Partnership Show in conjunction with Darlington. In his defence and in appealing the sentence placed upon him as excessive for such an oversight, he told the KC Board: “Unbeknown to me a Shiba Inu bitch which I co-own was exhibited at the general show. My judging commenced after the general championship show classes had ended just after lunchtime. In the morning I arrived in the public car park. I entered the show, spending my free time watching a few breeds being judged whilst keeping well away from the French Bulldog ring. For refreshments and a toilet I used the public facilities. In fact to all intents and purposes I was indeed simply a member of the public before I commenced judging the independent breed club open show. 
“I was not offered any of the facilities available to Darlington’s judges, stewards, officials and their acquaintances. The fact is I would never expect it or indeed consider it appropriate as my judging engagement was completely independent of the main show.

NO INTENT TO DECEIVE OR BENEFIT

“I am aware that the rule exists, (albeit one considered by many as nonsensical) whereby dogs I own or co-own cannot be exhibited at the general championship show where I am appointed to judge an independent show. 
“Whilst I understand this is not the place to consider the existence of this rule, it is however the place to strongly object to the findings of this committee and the financial penalty I have had imposed upon me. 
“I would like to point out that I am a senior figure of very long standing within the dog showing fraternity. I have an unblemished record and I believe I am known and respected for my honest and forthright character. A mistake was made whereby I unwittingly broke a rule, there was no intent to deceive and there was no possibility that any advantage could be gained from this mistake, it was in fact simply an innocent mistake which all of us, the Kennel Club included, have and will continue to make. This is a hobby, the very existence of which is based on honesty and if, as it must be concluded this was indeed an honest and isolated mistake, then no penalty should be imposed.
“I would like to draw your attention to the reasons why, unless you can give me good reason for the Committee’s decision, it is not my intention to accept or therefore pay this penalty. The monetary value of the fine is of no consequence it’s the principle I find objectionable and as such I will be sending a £200.00 donation to the KC Charitable Trust. 
“Only when the KC sees fit to treat us all the same will I be accepting of decisions such as this one. Indeed it will be of great concern to people in dogs that a level playing field does not seem to exist”. 
Mr Gadsby contended in his submission to the KC that there are well documented cases where senior KC figures apparently mislead and as a result gain an advantage, yet when the KC acknowledges this as a fact they then seem to choose not to warn or to penalise those people, instead allowing individuals to keep advantages gained. 
He added: “Integrity is the main pillar on which our sport is based and whilst acts of falsification totally undermine this principle innocent mistakes do not. 
“Finally the second penalty imposed, that I should be further punished by attending ‘the Requirements of a Dog Show Judge’ seminar. If my statement provided is taken as a true account, whereby I was fully aware of the regulation but I simply forgot to inform the co-owners, then my attendance on this course is clearly unnecessary. 
“In closing I sincerely hope that there is no prejudicial element to the Committee’s findings. I am a strong supporter of our Kennel Club, but I have also at times been a benevolent critic when it has been obvious that a voice representing the members and our community had to be heard.”

PROCEDURAL ERROR

Apart from maintaining that the punishment meted out to him was disproportionate for a first offence of this kind, Mr Gadsby has stated that he is aware of other similar instances where judges involved in making such errors have merely been given a warning but have not been subjected to £50 fines or instructions to attend a ‘Requirements of a Dog Show Judge’ seminar. His view is that he has been selected for special treatment and that the Board’s decision borders on being spiteful, a word used on a regular basis about other decisions made by the Board in recent years.
The perception is that because of Mr Gadsby having successfully introduced some proposals at the 2019 Kennel Club AGM against the wishes of the KC Board, he has been singled out and victimised in a way that would not have been applied to other people who made similar errors, or indeed were involved in more deliberate rule breaking or avoidance. 
In addition it is also believed that the Kennel Club Board on this occasion acted ultra vires and beyond its legal powers in the way that it conducted the appeal, and that the decision that it took in not upholding Mr Gadsby’s appeal was against natural justice. The appeal was heard by the entire Kennel Club Board including seven members of the KC Judges Committee who had been involved in the original decision to fine Mr Gadsby. That being the case these seven people should not have been permitted to take any part in the discussion of the case at appeal, nor should they have been involved in the decision making process. As a minimum they ought to have been required to declare a definite conflict of interest and ought to have absented themselves entirely from that part of the Board Meeting. 
So far it appears the Board’s decision has not actually been communicated to Mr Gadsby but OUR DOGS is aware of the decision that it has made and can reliably report on the matter.
For OUR DOGS comments see our opinion column on page 8 this week

Comment(s):
Name: Elaine Newberry
Comment: As a retired HR Specialist with no vested interest in the case I feel any organisation should have completely different people hearing an appeal. This is in the interest of fairness. Another point to make would be that any sanction should be the same for similar cases so discrimination is not applied.


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