Secretary's Announcements

EGM minutes

Minutes of the EGM held at Newark Showground on December 4th 2022

In attendance : 

Approximately 400 BFA registered members

Some under 18s

Independent Chairperson’s address

Philip Nam was the independent chair for the previous EGM in 2017. He is a practising lawyer and a civil and commercial mediator. Although by his own admission he is not very familiar with the sport of flyball, he was asked to chair the meeting to ensure that the rules of our association and the code of ethics are upheld. He asked for every person to remain courteous and friendly during the presentations and the following Q & A sessions. The intention was made clear that questions from the membership would take precedence over those making submissions.

Philip was advised he could allow people to speak or to exclude them if he felt that was necessary. He was made aware that the meeting was being recorded electronically and that there were 2 registered non committee members taking minutes.

Philip stated that the purpose of the meeting today was to discuss a number of rule breaches that have occurred by the committee with regards to the handling of complaints as well as the application of other committee processes which have led to the committee being unable to function within its normal boundaries.

Morning session led by callers of the EGM

Ellen Barraclough, Craig Burrows, Jeanette Shelley, Sharon Allcorn plus non committee members Will Whiteley, Alicia Marsland

Oral/on screen submissions from Will Whiteley and Ellen Barraclough

Ellen addressed the membership to thank people for supporting the EGM and to give a brief outline of the purpose of the meeting. 

Will Whiteley

Will began his presentation by showing a slide detailing The Constitution and the Code of Ethics of The British FlyballAssociation.

He then went on to explain what had happened at an event hosted by Aces flyball team at Ardingly over Easter weekend in April this year. There were a few problems and mistakes made resulting in some concerns being raised despite 4 committee members, 3 head judges and 2 members from the judge’s board being in attendance. 

Some of the issues were difficulties in the initial set up due to team dogs contracting KC meaning they had to be left at home so there were few people available for setting up the rings and greeting campers. The team’s own lights failed and the set ordered from the BFA had not arrived. When they did arrive, they were also not working properly. This led to a delay in racing starting. A competent member managed to mend the lights and get them working but there was still only 1 set across two rings which also inevitably led to delays.

On receipt of an email to the committee from a concerned committee member who had attended the tournament, the committee decided to take the concern forward as a complaint, but one of the members involved was not informed about the investigation. An IO was appointed but not an independent DSC. The members were not allowed to see the IO report and although mediation was arranged, they were not allowed to discuss what happened at Ardingly at the meeting or with anyone else including family. The IO made recommendations to the committee which were not followed and sanctions were applied to the tournament organiser, the head judge and another member of the team.

Will then went on to highlight the differences in the way similar mistakes were handled at other tournaments showing that there wasn’t any consistency in the way things were dealt with. There were several examples of rule breaches by the committee including rule change proposals for the AGM being rejected and the rules for Foundation racing being brought in as an appendix after the membership had rejected the proposal at the previous AGM. 

Another incident occurred where a divisional judge made a call to stop a race as a jump was deemed unsafe. He was overruled by the Head Judge and told to award the leg to the other team. As he was unhappy with the way this had been handled and the way it had made him feel he requested mediation which was given but not addressed properly. A formal complaint was made but to date this is still outstanding and there have been no updates. This has been ongoing since last summer.

Ellen Barraclough

Ellen started with a quick recap of the problems that occurred at Ardingly. 

To summarise what happened after:

• Letter of concern sent to committee
• IO appointed as per procedure
• Original concerned committee member included in discussions leading to a conflict of interest and concerns over the accuracy of the IO report.
• Committee applied sanctions to 3 members
• Attempt to set up an appeals group
• One HJ (who was not present at Ardingly) refused to accept invitation to appeals group, the reasons given were shown on a slide and were centred around this not being allowed in the current constitution or rules pertaining to the committee itself.
• Ongoing since 18th April 2022

Some comparisons were once again highlighted around the rule breaches including

• A breach of confidentiality, 
• Messenger groups being set up to exclude some committee members, 
• Sanctions handed out without following the disciplinary process. 
• Trying to remove a committee member after she raised a complaint at a sanctioned competition.
• The BFA appointed accessibility officer was approached by a vulnerable person due to the way a complaint was handled. The committee were emailed but nothing further came back from them.
• Committee meetings were not following the constitution

The constitution clearly states that ALL committee members should be given the opportunity to attend meetings and to vote where implicated.

Q &A from Morning presentations 

• Q Jenny Cousins: Why were complaints treated differently even though they involved committee members in more than one instance? 
• A? There is no process in place for committee led complaints and this one involved a committee member.
• David Murdoch: stated that the first instance of mediation is only done by committee members. He also stated that there were arguments between committee members at the Indoor Champs and that the atmosphere was toxic, this is a breach of the code of ethics. Q He asked why there was no option on the voting form for all 9 members to step down.
• A Craig commented that the committee have no control over the atmosphere. The question about a further voting option was put to the independent chair.
• Q ? Maria Worrall: were there any more rule breaches?
• A Ellen commented not that she was aware of
• Q Lorraine Martin: whose decision is it on the day if things go wrong?
• A Alicia commented that the TO and HJ would oversee any decisions.
• Q Lorraine: who made errors on the C2? Curious to know if it was the same team and further training was needed.
• A ? No idea, multiple teams doing RP. There were 78 Ring Party errors at Ardingly but more at another tournament which weren’t sanctioned.
• Q Lorraine: Was it a conflict of interest of HJ decision to over-rule a divisional judge?
• Q Will Whiteley: were discussions set up which excluded some committee members?
• A ? Yes there were, Sharon was excluded April-September
• Q Emma Mason: why was there no contact regarding their complaint despite procedure being followed?
• A Jeanette: Differences of opinion within the committee. Rules should be black and white, no grey areas. 7 out of the 9 members were involved and the opinion was split 4:3. 
• Q ? Why was there no DSC?
• A Ellen: it would not be agreed to.
• Q Bhav: If all members of the committee step down what would happen?
• A Craig: Everything would have to stop except the financial side until a new committee could be co-opted.
• Q ? Would all email correspondence be shown to the membership? (I think this was about the seeding at the speed trials, indoor champs)
• A ? No answer to above question but it was stated that only the fastest times were recorded.
• Q Sam Barraclough: What are we trying to achieve here?
• A Alicia: Rules adhered to consistently and fairly. They have been shown that this is not the case. We need to follow protocol.
• Q Angela Davis: If potentially only 4 stay on the committee they won’t have a quorum
• Q Zoe Colling: Do people involved at Ardingly accept that it was a mess? Were the committee approached for assistance?
• A Jeanette: Yes and decisions were made for benefit on the day
• Q Zoe: Why has it taken so long and why were other steps not taken?
• A Ellen: No mediation was offered around the complaints at Ardingly. Ellen stated it was the first complaint she had been involved in and took her lead from other committee members. Unfortunately she later learned it had not been handled fairly.
• Q ? In an emergency situation could they co-opt a full committee?
• A Craig: Yes potentially it could happen but they would all be new with no experienced members and their terms would all end at the same time leading to a possible brand new committee every 3 years.
• Q Kath Palin: stated she was the IO for the complaint at the Indoor champs and in her opinion there was no case to answer to. She recommended further training of the individual and discussion about how the Head Judge should contact the divisional judge during racing. 
• A ? :Committee can’t reach a mutual decision on what should happen next.
• Q Magda Whiteley: Why was Sharon not involved in the discussions around the Ardingly complaint?
• A Sharon: she assumes because Alicia is her daughter and was the head judge involved in the complaint.
• Q Karen Partridge: commented that communication at Ardingly was appalling and trying to run with headlights onto the box was unsafe.
• A ? This is not a question about committee processes.
• Q Sam?: If all 9 step down what happens to all the email correspondence? Should all evidence be made available to the membership?
• A Craig: correspondence is protected under privacy laws and would not be shared which implies there would be no records going forward. Ellen: DSC appointed to discipline any members who are proved to work outside the rules and they would have access to all evidence.
• Q Michelle: to the 5 members: what will they do if not asked to stand down?
• A Justin: If he remains they will draw a line under everything and move on.
• Q Ryan Mills: Are the problems highlighted regarding divisional judges and ring party errors going to put people off judging and hosting? Rules are not fit for purpose. The constitution was altered in 2017 but was never voted in.
• A Rachel: Under legal advice the constitution rule was removed and it was voted in at an AGM.
• Q Sarah Prince : to Jeanette, did you receive an email about the complaint (not sure if this was referring to Ardingly or a complaint made at a later date)
• A Jeanette: no I did not
• Q Reece Marsland: Why was the complaint not investigated or discussed further? (again unclear which complaint)
• A ? No response that I heard
• Q Sam ? After Covid and such a long gap between competitions were concerns not raised beforehand eg no training for Ring Party?
• A Jeanette: not specifically
• Q ? : to the 5: Is it commonplace to remove a committee member if a complaint has been made by their own team? Does this mean a committee member cannot put in a complaint without risk of removal?
• A Stuart: If their opinion was too different to the rest of the committee they would in effect remove themselves.
• Q ? Why was information and specifically the voting options not shared before now?
• A Ellen: Too much sensitive information and some committee members requested it wasn’t discussed before. Presentations needed explanation and clarification.

After a lunch break the meeting re-convened with an announcement from Philip Nam that the third option for all the committee to stand down had been agreed.

Afternoon session, response from the other 5 committee members

Justin Shearing, Katie Burns, Rachel Short, Stuart Laverick & Paul Horton

Justin opened the presentation by stating that he wanted all of the membership present to be able to make an informed choice with regards to the voting. He thanked everyone for attending and said they had not been consulted about the voting paper. The 5 of them were happy with the option for all 9 to stand down.

He agreed it had been inappropriate to exclude committee members from meetings.

The disability complaint was still being looked into and Justin himself had been re-writing the procedures along with ACAS which should have been made available to the membership at the AGM which was cancelled due to the EGM.

Justin stated that there had been no constitution proposals rejected but the review/consultation for approval of proposals did not go ahead due to the AGM being cancelled.

Justin stated there was no misconduct it was interpretation of the evidence.

There was no DSC for the complaint at the indoor champs as it was not deemed necessary and concerns raised by the IO are not covered by rules or processes.

When emails of concern are sent a decision is made after consultation of the rules.

Justin admitted that there were occasionally pre-meetings to discuss upcoming items. He stated that instead of minutes he would produce a monthly blog to advise the membership on matters arising from the committee meeting. 

He said the committee have achieved things such as: 

• new policies, GDPR: Safeguarding, Accessibility.  
• Covid & Lockdown: risk assessments, flyball roadmap, adapted flyball guidance
• BFA virtual champs
• Financial stability, quoting committee expenses dropping from £6.5K in 2018 to £100 this year
• Ulna measuring: device design and training
• 2021 Festival, 2022 Champs

Rachel then summarised a timeline for the Ardingly issues.

The initial email was to raise concern and not a complaint. Initial discussions excluded the committee member who had raised the concern, Jeanette and Sharon. These concerns were still under investigation. Two Head Judges not on the committee were appointed as IOs for impartiality and they raised further concerns in their initial report which was received in May. The final report was received in July.

• The tournament was poorly planned and executed
• No camping plan, no host team to greet arrivals
• Paperwork not available
• Lack of race order, buff not updated, not enough time between races.
• Indoor red ring not ready, no judges or ring party listed
• Cancellation of Multibreed even though Foundation went ahead
• Head Judge’s decisions not to a high standard
• Lights issues
• Delay in racing second session at 6.50pm using vehicle headlights.
• BFA lights left out all night
• Only 1 HJ but 2 sanctioned tournaments 


A committee discussion was held between Craig, Ellen, Rachel, Paul and Stuart. Justin was not available but was sent outcomes after the meeting. All 5 were in agreement that there had been no wilful breaches of the rules or constitution and the following outcomes were put into place:

• Jeanette not allowed to host again for 12 months as an individual, team could still host with another TO. This decision was taken as sanctioned racing was cancelled over unsanctioned and general maladministration.
• Alicia to have 5 supervised HJ appointments. Breach of rule 5.2, some flawed decision making so supervision rather than removal deemed appropriate.
• Andrew Worrall removed as HJ and Judge’s board member due to disregard of BFA equipment and driving near the ring.

Actions by the committee post investigation were that emails were sent to Jeanette, Alicia and Andrew. Alicia appealed against the decision. The committee stated that this was not a disciplinary procedure and outcomes would be suspended pending appeals by Alicia and Andrew. The appeals process was deferred due to the impending champs events.

Since the previous EGM in 2017, 7 concerns have been raised to the committee and investigated, 3 were taken to a DSC and 1 person was issued with a ban for aggressive behaviour.

Rachel advised the membership that you do not need to pay £50 to raise a concern with the committee.

Discussion on email re suitable HJ. Agreed by quorum. Andrew and Alicia were advised of this and HJs approached.

Threat of EGM calling for resignation, calling notice started 12/09/22. Committee became aware on 19/09/22

Mediation meeting arranged between Jeanette, Sharon, Craig, Ellen and Will to discuss concerns about the committee and not to discuss Ardingly. 

This was an unsuccessful attempt to find a solution.

30/09/22 email received from Jeanette, Ellen, Alicia and Will calling EGM with a list of over 200 names supporting.

A post announcement was made with a calling notice for the EGM but 5 members of the committee were unaware of the exact topics. EGM proposition is that the BFA committee is unable to function as it is currently set up.

Committee processes cover a wide range of activity. Justin then gave a presentation about what a committee does and how it functions.

Complaints remain ongoing.

Katie outlined the running order complaint which occurred at the indoor Champs.

• Original running order completed July 21st
• This was amended due to an incorrect seed time
• Second version published
• Running orders Friday/Saturday were amended due to the heat
• Results inputted into a running order template which sorted teams into divisions
• First draft sent at 5.30pm to committee members
• No comments were made and race order completed by 7.15pm.
• A couple of errors were amended and results and race order published on FaceBook
• Saturday am approached by 2 members of Aces querying running order as 2 teams on the same time. They suggested it should be done alphabetically.
• They then returned and queried the team name used
• Later approached by two HJs and recommended to amend running order. There is nothing in the rules to cover this situation.
• Formal complaint entered at 12.46pm stating dissatisfaction.
• Discussed by 7 committee members in attendance and agreed to discuss with Rachel.
• Complaint was not upheld as no rules had been broken.
• Paperwork for division 1 re done.

Q & A session from afternoon presentations

Q Kerena: Why are there meetings held without a full committee and why have there been no minutes for a long period?

A ?

Q Are we registered with the ICO (data protection)?

A Justin: He didn’t know and suggested the secretary should know

Q Zoe : offered praise to the committee but asked why they had held 48 meetings this year already?

A Stuart: It has been necessary, there is much to do. He commented that he wanted to build a new website and app for the BFA but hasn’t had time.

Q Emma: We have a process in place for speed trials..why do something different?

A Katie: it was done with the spreadsheet, a process should have been agreed.

Q Wayne: Why did the Committee member not discuss the problems at Ardingly with the TO? Why has it come to this? Why were IO recommendations not taken?

A  Rachel: It was a rule breach over cancelling Multibreedover Foundation

Someone stated they could have gone much harder with the sanctions placed.

It was commented that maybe someone was made an example of which may not have been appropriate.

Q Christina: When rules are not in place should committee make decisions? Do they have that right?

A Justin: Its around interpretation of the rules.

Q Sam: Sanctions were taken against Andrew Worrell, he wasn’t judging but others were and no sanctions brought against them?

A Justin: Andrew specifically made poor decisions

Q Reece: Why has Jeanette’s £50 not been returned?

A Rachel: Because her complaint wasn’t upheld. It was agreed how the speed trials would be dealt with-others disagreed with this.

Q Debbie: What is the difference between a complaint and a concern?

A Justin: no clear answer

Q Maria Worrell: what’s the purpose of issuing sanctions against Jeanette when they can put a different name down as TO and still host?

A Justin: we wanted Aces to run tournaments so as not to hurt indoor racing and felt this was a learning curve for Jeanette. This was our interpretation of the IO report.

Q Kristian: Can you explain why some IO reports are shared and some are not?

A No reply

Q Sarah Prince: if as stated at the beginning you didn’t know what the contents were going to be why did you request that a slide was removed? Why have names been used throughout the afternoon presentations but in the morning were kept anonymous?

A It was of a sensitive nature and the Independent chairperson agreed

Q Sarah: The IO report suggested disciplinary procedures should not be placed so why were they?

A Justin:They took the disciplinary route as nothing else available.

Q Nicky Marlow: Who on the committee decides what is a complaint?

A Rachel: not always necessary to investigate

Q ?: Did Alicia or Jeanette or anyone withdraw a dog from the competition (Ardingly)

A: Nobody suggested it was a welfare issue but onus for welfare is on the owner.

Q Bhav: Was a divisional judge at Ardingly. Are judges now open to being penalised? Did Ardingly set a precedence?

Q Bhav: who was involved in the decisions on sanctions following the Ardingly complaint?

A Justin: commented that he challenged the decisions.

Q Jenny Cousins: was Jeanette aware this was not a complaint? Were sanctioned members told not to discuss?

A ?: Unclear answer

Q Louise?: There was arguing amongst the committee at Indoor Champs. Where do the committee see the future? 

A Katie: Rules were not amended after the last EGM…what is best for the BFA going forward?

Q Alicia: Katie is responsible for us being at this EGM because she didn’t initially talk about the problems arising.

A Katie: Defending the decisions she made over the weekend.

Q Chris Mace: Can we withdraw the sanctions and move on?

A No answer recorded.

Q Andrew Worrell: Lies were told about the lights, as custodian why shouldn’t he repair them?

A Paul: I brought the lights and fixed them then fully tested them with Andrew. 

Q Jeanette stated Paul had told her they weren’t working. 

A Paul: Refuted this.

Lights had been in storage for a year. They worked once and then stopped working.

Q Janet: will there be any support to organisers with paperwork going forward?

A Katie: Yes

Q Sarah Wolstenholme: Had proposal rejected then told it would be discussed. Committee say they don’t reject proposals…is this trustworthy and honest?

A Justin: You raise good points!

Q Sam Barraclough: Complaints procedure is the only way we can deal with “rules”. Asking Ellen, how many times have you sent emails under your name but not written by you?

A Ellen: Lots

A Rachel: we all draft emails for Ellen to send to save time.

Q ?: what does permanent removal mean? 

A Craig: Permanent means permanent! Do the membership want any of these people back on the committee?

A standing vote was taken during the course of the day to add a 3rd option to the voting slip for all 9 committee members to step down and 6 volunteer custodians to be put in place until the next AGM (possibly April 2023) Those 6 would have the option to re-stand and a staggered term would be implemented to ensure all 9 were not leaving at the same time.

Voting then commenced, official outcome validated by the independent chair:

• Option 1: 4 to remain and 5 to stand down permanently: 162 votes
• Option 2: 5 to remain and 4 to stand down permanently: 51 votes
• Option 3: All 9 to stand down: 147 votes

Result: 5 members to be removed with investigation. Remaining 4: Craig, Ellen, Jeanette and Sharon to co-opt additional members until the AGM takes place.