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Mark Cocozza retains KC membership

Issue: 12/04/2019

A request to the Kennel Club Board asking for it to remove the KC membership of ex KC Director Mark Cocozza was rejected at a meeting held on Tuesday. 
The request by eleven KC members was instituted because of a presentation given by Mr Cocozza at the KC's Special General Meeting on 6 November 2018. It is understood that at the time a large number of KC Members felt that the presentation delivered by Mr Cocozza at that Meeting was offensive to other KC Members and non-Members, and was in a number of respects in contravention of the KC's Code of Conduct for KC Members.
In response to the request for Mr Cocozza's expulsion, the KC Board on Tuesday of this week issued the following statement to those who had made the request: 
"Mr Mark Cocozza: The Board considered the papers supporting the request that action be taken to remove the membership of Mark Cocozza because of his presentation given at the Special General Meeting. The Board voted on whether it was in the interests of the Kennel Club to request Mr Cocozza to resign his Kennel Club membership. 
"The vote of the Board did not reach the required threshold as prescribed under Article 38.
"The Board therefore declined to invoke the Article 38 process and would not be inviting Mr Cocozza to withdraw his membership."
OUR DOGS asked Mr Cocozza for his comments or his response to the Members' request but at the time of going to press had not received a response. 

Text of request

"We write as a group of concerned Kennel Club members who attended the Special General Meeting of the Kennel Club on November 6th last year. At the time we were appalled by some of the pre-meditated remarks made there by Mr Mark Cocozza attacking other members and other participants in our hobby. These attacks were made publicly at that meeting in front of around 300 members of the Club. We believed that in his speech Mr Cocozza breached the Kennel Club's Code of Practice for Members on so many occasions and in so many ways, that action would almost automatically have been taken by the Kennel Club Board to effect the removal of Mr Cocozza's Membership.
"We are surprised that this has not happened and we now write to ask the Board to commence proceedings as a result of our formal complaints below. We note that there is already precedence for dealing previously with the removal of Membership as a result of rather fewer complaints, and for rather lesser 'offences', even before the Code was put into force.
"Before listing his alleged infringements of the code in detail, we list below the relevant terms of the code as published:
"It says amongst other things that Kennel Club Members must
"1. Behave with dignity
"2. Be objective
"3. Have respect for all
"4. Be tolerant and empathetic with the views of others
"5. Be ambassadors and representatives of the Kennel Club
"6. Act with integrity at all times
"7. Respect the opinions of other club members and dog activity participants
"8. Deal with allegations of misconduct through the proper investigatory process
"9. Not engage in threatening, abusive or offensive activity towards others.
"10. Not publicly criticise other members
11. Comply with Kennel Club Rules and Regulations
"A Kennel Club member will understand that if he/she does not follow these principles and falls short of the expectations and responsibilities in being a Kennel Club member, the Kennel Club may be obliged to implement and enforce the code with sanctions under the Kennel Club Rules and Regulations - including the possibility of removal from membership".

••••••••••

The following are extracts from the meeting and the Members' allegations on how the code was breached. 
"Below are extracts from a transcript of Mr Cocozza's comments at the Special General Meeting. These are followed in each case by the number of the above KC Code requirements which we believe his comments breached. 
MC - "I'm sure many of you are confused as to the events of the last two months. Put simply, it is a choice between the Kennel Club being governed by the board democratically elected by you, the members, or being governed by a social media mob who believe in trial by Facebook led by Meg Purnell, who has encroached on all your privacy and in some cases by sending offensive material".
"These are unfounded allegations against a named member and against over 500 people who had requested action on Mr Cocozza's previous behaviour. The comments made unquestionably breached codes numbered above as 3, 4, 7 and 10. 
MC - "She (Mrs Purnell Carpenter) in turn supported by Mr. Davies who seems to have acquired a weekly column in the Mail on Sunday to bring the Kennel Club into further disrepute by reporting on events that have never taken place, including his own ludicrous claim of being a Kennel Club member for 57 years."
"Again, these are unsubstantiated allegations made in public against a current Member and against a former Member with no evidence that Mr Davies "had a weekly column in the Mail on Sunday", or that he had ever claimed to have been a KC Member for 57 years or that he had reported on events that had never taken place. These comments breached codes above numbered 2, 3, 7 and 10. 
MC - "It also saddens many that the only weekly dog paper owned by an ex Chairman reports unbalanced information."
"A further inaccurate statement breaching codes numbered 3, 4, 7 and 10. 
MC - "At every opportunity, the requisitioners have … fabricated other members' names to call SGMs and changed their plans constantly, week after week with one sole aim, to keep this debate out of the members' hands…...They have tried to bully the board with veiled threats behind the scene rather than bring this to the members to decide."
"Patently untrue comments about a large group of Kennel Club Members who merely wished to subject the position of Mr Cocozza and others to debate by members. Thus the comments made breached codes above numbered 2, 3, 4, 6, 7, 9, 
and 10. 
"Talking of the actions of Mrs Meg Purnell Carpenter, an ex KC Director and present KC Member for raising questions on financial matters, Mr Cocozza said that these indicated: 
MC - "either incompetence or ineffectiveness as a director on her part to now be making such claims, which is in itself yet another serious breach of directors' requirements that of collective responsibility in which she has failed miserably….Further, she never once asked for legal advice on the spending of items over £100,000, even though she was present at the meetings. I however did. In fact, there was no mismanagement, just a total lack of understanding on her part, and her allegations are malicious and vindictive in the extreme".
"There is certainly no evidence given of malicious or vindictive behaviour and these statements undoubtedly breach in every way, codes numbered 2, 3, 4, 7 and 10. 
"In relation to the case of excessively severe treatment meted out in the Melanie Spavin case: 
MC "The only other case of a similar nature was dealt with by the judges' committee. A person who only once used unacceptable language at an open show, received a five year judging ban. That was the only case law we had to refer to in this decision. The committee must be allowed to provide fair, yet robust, penalties without fear of intimidation and personal attack."
"This is simply untrue as there are other cases of much less severe punishments given and the case used as an example was a case where the punishment was simply a judging ban and was not a total ban from all canine activities. This statement breached codes numbered 2 and 6. 
MC - "When Melanie Spavin's dog was sick, I was the one who delayed the hearing for one month at her mother's request against the advice of the legal team. I was later named in a signed witness statement now on the screen in support of Melanie's appeal, that fabricates the time and duration of a phone call between Michael Gadsby and myself, that alleges I had disgruntled feelings towards Melanie prior to this hearing. Not only is this phone call fabricated, as I can clearly show and prove from my own phone records, I have in my possession over 200 text messages with Melanie, that more than prove there was never any animosity between us whatsoever."
"These are further unsubstantiated allegations against a fellow member made in public, and accusing him of lying. They also, by use of photographic images placed on the screen for all members to see, show details of personal telephone calls and numbers and details of evidence given in a KC Disciplinary Case that should have been kept confidential. They therefore breach codes numbered 3, 6. 7, 8, 9, 10 and 11.
MC - "There have been stories reported about an incident with Steve Hall. I can tell you clearly, no physical action occurred between Steve Hall and myself. I have seven independent witnesses have come forward after this event, who witnessed the entire conversation. Two of these people also claim Meg Purnell has approached them to ask them to be witnesses for Steve Hall, despite them stating to her that nothing happened, yet she feels the need to make claims of vindictiveness from other people. I think not. The result of this and the following release of false detail into social media and the national press has resulted in the Metropolitan Police issuing a crime number as a case of harassment, with me as the victim, not Steve Hall. Further, this is the same Steve Hall who would not allow his daughter to compete for the Bitch Reserve CC under me at Southern Counties last year and later told me I would never judge at Blackpool again. Who again is being vindictive now?"
"This entire issue, then the subject of a potential Disciplinary Case, had nothing to do with what Mr Cocozza was meant to be discussing in his speech. It should not have been mentioned in public in front of members or in front of people who might subsequently have had to sit in judgment as part of that disciplinary hearing. Many of the statements are also untrue. Even the Barrister employed subsequently by the Kennel Club to examine this case has not dismissed the possibility that there was unwanted physical contact with Mr Hall and, so far as we are aware, the seven witnesses mentioned above did not all materialise in the case. Further - the totally irrelevant comments about Mr Hall's daughter scarcely show respect for other people involved in the world of dogs. For all of these reasons the comments breached codes numbered 1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 and 11.
MC - "Jean Lanning has spent over a year spreading lies about myself being caught taking drugs in the Kennel Club and that it has been covered up. There is a slide there proving an email she has sent to fellow members. The club secretary warned her of her activity last year as to her conduct, yet she was still repeating these lies two and a half weeks ago to board members in the club room."
"An attack on a long term Kennel Club Member which, true or not, should not have played any part in the speech being delivered by Mr Cocozza. The allegations concerned had never in any way been an issue raised by those asking for the actions of Mr Cocozza and others to be dealt with by the Kennel Club, and they therefore had nothing to do with the issues which Mr Cocozza was supposed to be defending in his speech. These comments therefore breached codes numbered 1, 2, 3, 4, 7, 8, 9, and 10.

Conclusion

"In conclusion we as Members of the Kennel Club request that action should be taken to remove the Membership of Mr Mark Cocozza because of his behaviour at the Kennel Club Special General Meeting on November 6th, 2018. 
"Even if the Board does not accept every single element of the above list of infringements as valid, it ought surely to see that, taken as a whole, the accumulated statements by Mr Cocozza cannot be said to comply with the Kennel Club Code of Practice for Members.  
"It is in so many ways disrespectful rather than "respectful of other club members and dog activity participants". It certainly cannot be said, as required of Kennel Club Members by the Codes, to be "tolerant and empathetic with the views of others"."


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