Table Tennis England EGM

Tony Catt – EGM statement 18th January 2021

I have called the EGM in order to highlight the way that Sandra Deaton and Sara Sutcliffe MBE have been running Table Tennis England. I have played table tennis competitively for over 40 years. It is woven into the fabric of my life. I was proud to be elected to the Board by the membership in 2019 and attended my first Board meeting in September 2019. I thought that being on the Board would give me the opportunity to be part of a body that runs our sport for the benefit of the members and to be part of the decision-making process. Setting a coherent strategy to improve table tennis in England for everybody taking part at every level, casually or competitively. I have not been on a fault-finding mission, but I have found many issues that could be improved. I have already raised the issues, but my questions have not been met with the openness that I would expect. I find this lack of accountability does not meet with my standards of integrity. I have raised many questions, often following up for members, since being on the Board and if any replies were given, they were incomplete and unsatisfactory. They were not answers. If anyone would like a list of the questions, please drop me an email tony,catt@virgin.net and I will supply you with the list. Due to the lack of suitable responses, I referred the matter to Sport England. I had to whistle blow as I felt that I had no further options within the Board to get answers. However, Sport England could not investigate because it is not a regulator and has no mandate to enforce. The abuse that I have received from the Board caused me to report to an Employment Tribunal. I qualify to use the tribunal due to the bursary that I receive enabling me to be classified as a “worker” or even an “employee”. I took this outside of the Board as I knew that I would not receive a fair hearing internally. This matter could have been concluded by competent management either at the time of the occurrences, at the meeting of 12th October, or the meeting on 26th November. Instead, it has been mishandled to where we are now. There were 3 complaints on the table on 26th November, two were removed, but Sara insisted on continuing with her complaint. There were options for the investigation to be done internally at minimal cost, but we have been advised that Sport England or UK Sport instructed us to go to an “independent” investigator. We have not seen any evidence of that instruction despite several requests. Since that time, some £15,000 of legal fees have been generated and that figure probably is much higher with invoices still to come in. I am sure that the members would feel that this money could have been spent on many other things that would actually benefit our sport. The Stockwell Report cleared me of harassment, contrary to what was said at National Council on Saturday. It also confirmed his opinion that he did not consider my actions to be very serious. 17.4 I am satisfied that some of the comments and actions that I have described or referred to are rude. Others in my view are objectionable and insulting and considered together constitute bullying so far as SS, SD and SM are concerned. It is not essential, although it is more common, for the person bullying to be in a more senior position or have influence over the person subject to bullying. There does not need to be an intention on the part of the person bullying. In some of the instances I have identified, I am not convinced that TC intended or was even aware of the effect his attitude was having on others. That lack of intent where it arises does not make the behaviour any easier to accept by those to whom the behaviour is directed. In this paragraph, Peter Stockwell does not accept that I was bullying. Only that Sandra, Sara and Simon accused me of bullying. Following on from the Stockwell Report, I have already agreed in writing to undertake the recommended training and mentoring and am still awaiting some indication that people are willing to join me in mediation. Members of the National Council were keen to help in mediation and that would be acceptable to me. I have also apologised for any upset caused, both in writing and on meeting recordings. The recent campaign against me has been malicious and dishonest. I will now need to spend time repairing my online profile due to defamatory and untrue statements put on the TTE site. This represents considerable reputational risk. Not only to me but, by association, the business interests of my wife and son. The fact that Sara and Sandra have abused the privilege of using the TTE website and circulation systems to continue their campaign is reprehensible. I understand that my actions go against the pro-establishment among you. I have highlighted: • Poor management practices. • Poor decision-making processes • Poor documentation • Lack of decisiveness • Willingness to defer decision-making with delays to most projects. The membership would make the following accusations about TTE. • TTE lacks transparency in its dealings. • It is unaccountable for its actions. • People are afraid to raise issues in case of reprisal – lost contracts, players dropped etc. I have asked for the EGM to be called off several times as I do not see that anything positive will come out of it. It seems that common sense cannot overcome Company Law even when nobody actually wants it to happen. Since we appear to be proceeding with it, you will get the opportunity to vote for change. Whichever way you choose to vote, please do perform your duty of voting on behalf of your members. Tony Catt Elected Deputy Chair

 

Table Tennis England Statement

Extraordinary General Meeting

 

The Board of Directors has called an EGM as they are required to do upon the request of company members representing at least 5% of the voting membership. 

 

This came about following publication by Tony Catt, an elected director, of his intention to table motions of no confidence and to have Sandra Deaton, Chairman and Sara Sutcliffe MBE, Chief Executive Officer removed from office. The majority of the Board does not support these motions and have given their unequivocal support to Sandra and Sara. Tony has also proposed a similar motion regarding his own position on the Board.

 

It is important to understand how this position has arisen. Since summer 2020, a number of issues were raised concerning the behaviour of Tony Catt towards other members of the Board and Senior Leadership. Despite a number of attempts to deal with this internally, it proved unsuccessful. A formal complaint was then raised by the Chief Executive on behalf of those people directly affected.

 

Under the terms of our funding agreements with both Sport England and UK Sport, we reported this fact to both organisations. Both funding bodies made it clear that they expected the complaint to be fully and properly investigated independently. Arbitration service organisation, Sport Resolutions, was then engaged by the Board and an independent investigator was appointed.

 

The independent investigation commenced in December 2020 and the report has this week been received by the Board who are considering it. The cost of the investigation is £6,500 plus VAT. In the interests of everyone involved, it is not appropriate for us to comment further on the investigation at this stage.

 

Tony Catt had also raised concerns about Table Tennis England governance with Sport England last summer. Sport England investigated and concluded that it was ‘assured that the Board is operating effectively and that there is no evidence of governance malpractice.’

 

Table Tennis England will communicate further information in relation to the EGM on Friday 8 January. To access the most recent information regarding the EGM, or to register to attend, please visit our General Meeting page by clicking the button below. Please direct any enquiries to help@tabletennisnengland.co.uk.

 

We would like to take this opportunity to thank all members and the table tennis community for their support during 2020, in what was a difficult year especially without being able to play the sport we all love. After the Government announcement on Monday 4 January, 2021 is starting off equally as challenging.

 

The Board and the staff have worked incredibly hard to manage the constantly changing Government advice for clubs, leagues, coaches and members as well as balancing the challenging financial position the pandemic has brought about. Table Tennis England’s Board and staff are committed to providing you and the sport with the support you need during these unprecedented times.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Author: via Shrewsbury Table Tennis League
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