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Referee row leaves judge furious

Issue: 02/11/2018

A row over the appointment and sacking of a show referee is set to taint a breed club's 50th anniversary show.
The argument has left a doyenne of the breed 'extremely disappointed' with both the Kennel Club and the Club concerned.
On the 10th November The Lowchen (Little Lion Dog) Club is set to put on its 50th Anniversary show. About two and a half years ago Mrs Spavin-Harrison was elected at the judges sub-committee to be the referee and was accepted by the members at the AGM. Mrs Spavin-Harrison has been involved in the breed for 40 years and she was extremely happy to accept this invitation to referee this landmark show. She told OUR DOGS, 'I was delighted to be asked as it would be a nice finish to my career.'
However, on the 11th July 2018 she received a letter from the society saying that, 'complaints have been made from club members regarding recent derogatory comments you made with reference to fellow Club members and the Committee on social media.
'Both the Lowchen Club and the Kennel Club have clear rules and guidelines regarding the misuse of social media which you should be fully aware of.'


Mrs Spavin-Harrison denied the accusation that she had written anything derogatory on social media. She wrote to the club saying, 'Please substantiate the mendacious and injurious claims made in your correspondence dated 11th July 2018 concerning allegations that I made derogatory comments against fellow members and committee on social media.'
She told OUR DOGS that she is unaware what the derogatory comment is that she is supposed to have made.
The committee responded to her letter denying that she misused social media by saying, 'The Officers and Committee know you are aware of the comments you made on social media on the 15/05/2018 and with regard to the complaints, they were received to the Club in the correct manner together with the copy of the comments made, which is the reason we contacted you.'
They then went on to say, 'The Officers and Committee wish to advise you that they are exercising their right, on behalf of the Club as per your contract, to withdraw the invitation to officiate as referee on 10/11/2018 with immediate effect.'
Understandably, Mrs Spavin-Harrison was very upset to be told this news. She felt that the tone of the letters she had received from the club were 'extremely disrespectful.' In order to find some redress she decided to get the Kennel Club involved.
The KC investigated the issue and they found that the Club was in breach of contract. They decided that Mrs Spavin-Harrison had not made any derogatory remarks. 


In a letter to Mrs Spavin-Harrison the KC said, 'The Committee noted the appointment had been withdrawn by the Club due to a claim that you made derogatory remarks on social media.
'However, the Committee did not accept the Club's claims and did not consider there was any evidence that your remarks were derogatory in nature.' The Club was warned as to its future conduct.
During the period when the KC were investigating the issue a replacement referee, Mrs Eilish Banks, was approved by the Kennel Club.
Even though the KC had established that Mrs Spavin-Harrison had done nothing wrong and that the Club had no right to terminate her appointment as referee, the KC allowed the club to appoint another referee.
OUR DOGS asked the Kennel Club if this was a case of 'right hand, left hand syndrome' with two parts of the KC unaware of what the other part is doing.
A spokesman for the KC denied this saying, 'It is not that the two parts of the KC are unaware of what each other is doing. The process for appointing an emergency judge is quite separate from that which deals with investigations into alleged breaches of regulations.'
Having been exonerated Mrs Spavin-Harrison contacted the Club asking for her contract as referee to be restored. The club simply 'noted' her letter. 
Again, Mrs Spavin-Harrison asked for redress from the KC and they said that once the replacement referee had been appointed there was nothing they could do. She told OUR DOGS how frustrated she was that she had, 'no redress' for having had this appointment taken from her even though she had been cleared by the KC.
She wrote again to the Club complaining that the actions of the club towards her had been, 'disgraceful, most disrespectful and blatantly planned from the outset and now you are on the brink of bringing this club into disrepute.'
These remarks were aimed at the Secretary of the club, Mary Pascoe. Mrs Pascoe replied, 'I am in receipt of your email sent to me for the attention of the Officers and Committee of the Lowchen (Little Lion Dog) Club.'
It is alleged by Mrs Spavin-Harrison that the real reason the refereeing appointment was taken away is because, 'It is personal. I knew they would try and get me off.
'It is a mess. Lowchen's have been my life and I have been in the breed for 40 years and I'm not suitable.'
OUR DOGS has repeatedly tried to contact Mary Pascoe, the Secretary. We have left telephone and facebook messages for her to contact us about this issue but at the time of going to press we had not received a reply.

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