Outcome of Appeal

Written by: Nigel Stelling
Date: 11/08/2017

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Following an Appeal against an earlier decision of a Disciplinary Hearing that was called to consider events that occurred in the Fordhouses CC v Old Hill CC 1st XI match on Saturday 17th June 2017, Fordhouses CC 1st XI has been deducted 36 points from its current total and Old Hill CC 1st XI has been deducted 24 points from its current total. The Old Hill CC player Nigel Davenport has been suspended from 10 BDPCL League matches during which time he may not play in any other cricket matches played under the auspices of ECB.

To counter any misunderstandings that may follow after the decisions were circulated to the clubs, the Chairman of the Appeal Panel (Nigel Stelling - Barrister) has requested that the full Judgement is displayed on the League Website.


APPEAL HEARING 07/08/2017
  

HALESOWEN CRICKET CLUB   

RE; FORDHOUSES CC AND OLD HILL CC     

APPEAL COMMITTEE   
N STELLING BARRISTER (CHAIRMAN)
D MANNING 
HIS HONOUR JUDGE A NAWAZ   

SECRETARY   
N ARCHER   

FORDHOUSES C.C.   
K THRELFALL (PRESIDENT) 
P JONES (CHAIRMAN) 
M MANDZUK (VICE-CHAIRMAN) 
C GUEST (CAPTAIN) 
S AKHTAR (PLAYER) 
P AKHTAR (FATHER of S AKHTAR) 
W HORWOOD (LEGAL REPRESENTATIVE)   

OLD HILL C.C.   
R NAGRA (SENIOR PLAYER) 
N. DAVENPORT (PLAYER) 
S PEDLEY (LEGAL REPRESENTATIVE)   

Each club sought to appeal against the findings of and the sanctions imposed by the original Disciplinary Hearing held on 4th July 2017.   

A note of that hearing has been made available to each club. It is not proposed to rehearse the content of that note in this Judgement.   

In summary, we were concerned with two incidents, the first during the second innings when Fordhouses CC were batting, the second post- match.   

Each of those incidents involved Mr Akhtar senior, the father of a Fordhouses player and present as a spectator.         

FORDHOUSES C.C.    

The original Tribunal found against the club in respect of charges ‘FCC’ 1, 4, 5 and 6.   

Only FCC 1 alleged a breach by the Club. ‘FCC’ 4, 5 and 6 were charges against Pervaiz Akhtar, the father of a Fordhouses CC player.    

Pervaiz Akhtar was not a member of the Club.   

In the Club’s grounds of appeal, it was asserted that the findings of the original disciplinary committee were disputed; it transpired that this related to the sequence of events rather than to the substance of the findings. It is also to be noted that the Clubs representative at this hearing stated that the original report of the umpires was not disputed save where it reflected that which the Umpires had been told by Davenport.   

We heard evidence from the Umpires (Mr Murphy and Mr Bhatti); neither had been able to hear that which passed between Akhtar senior and Davenport (an Old Hill CC player) originally but it was evident that the ‘exchange’ had been initiated by Akhtar, Davenport had responded and the incident escalated. A number of Fordhouses players entered the pitch, as indeed did Mr Akhtar Senior. Violence was used by Davenport directed first toward Akhtar Senior and then Akhtar Junior.   

It is apparent that this incident went on for some time before the protagonists were separated allowing the game to continue.   

We are mindful that a number of witnesses had made statements on behalf of one or other of the teams. Unsurprisingly, the statements were partial and thus to a very great extent contradictory. In summary, each side seeking to exonerate itself and blame the other for all that transpired. This was a theme that continued throughout this hearing.   

In those circumstances, this tribunal relied on the evidence of the Umpires, which we found to be impartial and reliable. That said there was some confusion arising out of the original ‘Umpires report’. That related to the second incident (post-match), again involving Akhtar senior.   

In so far as that confusion cast doubt upon the original findings, such conflict was resolved by virtue of a statement served by and on behalf of Fordhouses setting out Akhtar Senior’s version of events, in which he accepted using offensive language directed at an Old Hill player. It is of note that in that statement Akhtar Senior does not suggest that the Old Hill player used such language toward him.   

In those circumstances, we were unanimous in finding that Akhtar Senior had behaved as alleged in Charges FCC 4, 5 and 6.          

We turned then to consider FCC 1.   

Reference has already been made to the fact that the ‘first incident’ went on for some time. It was our unanimous view that this reflected a substantial failure to ‘manage’ the situation. Moreover, it was entirely foreseeable that there was likely to be further problems given that Akhtar Senior had remained on the ground. Nothing was said or done to prevent him approaching and confronting members of the Old Hill Club.   

Accordingly, we find that the charge FCC 1 is proved   

SANCTION   

In our view, the original tribunal erred in imposing a separate penalty in respect of FCC 5 on the club.   

Clearly the original tribunal had in mind the principle of totality when deciding the number of points to be deducted. In our view, having regard to all the circumstances, a deduction of 24 points would not adequately reflect the seriousness of the breach (FCC 1). Accordingly, we vary the penalty to a deduction of 36 points. It should be noted that we take into account the expressions of regret and apology expressed by the Officers of the club together with the club’s previous good disciplinary record.   

OLD HILL C.C./NIGEL DAVENPORT   

It is not proposed to repeat the circumstances set out above.   

In respect of the first incident we received clear evidence from the umpire Mr Bhatti that Davenport struck Akhtar Senior. As described hitherto, the incident escalated, Davenport was seen by both umpires to punch Akhtar Junior with a clenched fist. Whist this was denied by Davenport he did admit contact with Akhtar Junior and using the language described by other witnesses. Again, we unanimously accepted the evidence of the umpires.    

It follows that we find OH 3 and 5 proved.   

As to OH 1, we were unanimous that there was a failure to control the actions of Davenport which led to the breaches of OH 3 and 5. Accordingly, OH 1 was also found to be proved.   

SANCTION   

We have considered the sanctions imposed at the original hearing. We do not find them to be excessive. As regards Davenport, were it not for the fact that his behaviour was, we accept, entirely out of character, the penalty would have been considerably more severe. The 24-point reduction, the team penalty, was in our view merciful, but no doubt reflected the fact that the Club would be without a senior player for the duration of his suspension.   

Accordingly, we uphold the penalty imposed in respect of player and Club.   

The tribunal did not take into account the physical/facial expressions of dissent seen frequently during the course of the hearing. Those who behaved in that way may choose to reflect on their conduct.   

We would urge both Clubs to re-double their efforts to ensure that standard of behaviour required from players, members and spectators and the consequences of breaching those requirements is understood by all.          

STELLING 
MANNING 
NAWAZ                                                                                         August 2017