Why I withdrew from this Year's Cavalier Club Committee Election
by, 15th May 2010 at 08:45 PM (1749 Views)
In 2008 I appeared in a television documentary called ‘Pedigree Dogs Exposed’ and confirmed that a winning cavalier stud dog had an inherited disease.
Within dog breeding circles there is an unspoken, but strongly held, feeling that health problems should not be given publicity.
This article gives a much better description of the thinking behind this mind frame than I can.........
The upshot was that I was removed from my position on the Cavalier Club Committee by 200 angry breeder/exhibitors at a Special General Meeting.
The film had an enormous impact. It led to the BBC refusing to broadcast Crufts. The Kennel Club altered breed standards, Official reports have demanded that breeding practices change.
There were complaints by cavalier breeders that the film was unfair, but an Ofcom report completely dismissed a lengthy complaint by the Cavalier Club, and a recent BBC Trust report dismissed a long drawn out complaint and found the film to be accurate.
Many cavalier breeders are now health testing, but some of the influential cavalier breeders are still angry that the inherited problems in the breed were featured in the film, despite the fact that the problems needed to be recognised and acted upon.
There were many small ‘hobby’ breeders that supported what I had done,although they felt unable to say so publicly, and I had reason to believe that, despite the continuing hostility from top breeders, a postal vote of all the 1000 plus UK members would reverse the SGM decision.
So, in 2009 I stood again for the committee and as, suprisingly enough, there were no other nominations, I was elected unopposed.
At this turn of events most of the Officers and some of the committee members threatened to resign. I had been a loyal member of the Cavalier Club for thirty years and did not want to see it cease to function, so I withdrew my nomination.
This year there were more nominees than vacancies. I stood again in the hopes that a majority of Cavalier Club members, in a nationwide postal vote, would support my stand on cavalier health, and show that it was their wish that I should again serve on the committee.
When the election notice came out it stated that there were four committee vacancies. I knew that was incorrect, one if not two vacancies were missing. I queried these figures and it eventually became apparent that a recently co-opted member was being kept in a committee vacancy without standing for the position at the forthcoming election.
This was contrary to usual 'custom and practice', as co-opted members have always had to compete for their place against other nominees at the first possible AGM.
It appears that my objection led to the Cavalier Club consulting the Kennel Club. It was later announced that there were in fact seven vacancies ( this was later changed to eight ) and a fresh AGM date was announced.
When the AGM Agenda was sent out there was a proposal statement that implied that confidential committee information had been broadcast nationwide.
This was widely accepted to be referring to my interview for PDE
The accusation was a lie. Both the writer of the proposal statement and the Cavalier Club committee knew that the information I gave was not received by me as part of my committee duties, nor was it confidential. The owner of the dog had put it in the public domain herself when she had shown MRI certificate and scans to fellow exhibitors at dog shows.
I had not disclosed confidential committee information, that was not the charge at the SGM, and the Cavalier Club Officers who checked the proposal were well aware of that fact.
Given the actions of the committee in 2009, one could perhaps question whether this was a deliberate act designed to prejudice voting members against my nomination. Whatever the truth of the matter, the allegation that I had revealed confidential committee information, sent to voting members in official Club documentation will have greatly disadvantaged my chance of election to the committee.
I protested to the Cavalier Club and the Kennel Club and I asked that a notice should go out saying this accusation was untrue.
The Cavalier Club refused but said they would remove the untrue statement 'without admission' from the AGM agenda. I would suggest that the substitution of this revised page shows the Club recognised that the circulation of the falsehood was wrong.
I felt that an apology or retraction was needed as the act of sending out a revised page, without an explanation, will have merely highlighted the original lies.
As the Cavalier Club continued to ignore my protests, I objected to other irregularities in the election process in an attempt to gain more time to argue for the changes to be made.
It appears there were other flaws in the procedures that other members had complained about. Another AGM date was needed.
New ballot papers were sent out with a new AGM date together with a new page with the defamatory proposal statement removed, but no apology or explanation.
It was at that point, when it finally became apparent that the election was going to continue with the falsehood against me left uncorrected, that I decided I could not continue with my nomination.
I considered the Cavalier Club had failed to ensure a level playing field for all the candidates.
I believe in democracy. This committee election has been run from the beginning in an unfair and flawed way and I did not think that I could be reasonably expected to condone what had been done.
My decision was made easier because the Cavalier Club knowingly allowed a discriminatory sentence about being "sufficiently fit, in body and in mind" to be included in another Candidate's election statement.
This Candidate also included a sentence that said " I have never been removed from a club committee by the membership" so it would be concluded that his remarks were targeted at me.
I was the only disabled person to be standing in this election.
Discrimination against disabled persons is something that is against the law in the public sector. It appears that it may be alive and kicking in private members clubs.