Curlers get independent investigation

FOUR months after two Stranraer curlers were at the centre of one of curling's biggest ever controversies, an investigation is finally underway into why the Scottish ladies team played their last two games at the World Championships with only three players.

The investigation has been instigated by Bob Tait, the president of the Royal Caledonian Curling Club, the sports governing body, and will be conducted by an independent lawyer.

Forty-year-old Gail Munro and 26-year-old Lyndsay Wilson, both members of Stranraer Ice Rink Curling Club, became Scottish champions in February this year, along with team mates Karen Addison and Annie Laird. That victory gave the team the right to represent Scotland in Vernon, British Columbia, Canada, at the 'Worlds' the following month. But after a poor record of one win and eight losses, national coach Derek Brown dropped Mrs Munro, the skip, from the team. The team then played their remaining two games with only three players - Addison, Laird and fifth player Lynn Cameron. The reason why Mrs Wilson did not take to the ice again is unclear, but the investigation will decide if the conduct of the players and the coach was within guidelines set out in the RCCC Ethics manual.

When the team returned home Brown lodged a formal complaint against Munro and Wilson and Munro lodged a complaint against Brown. The legal position means that no one involved can comment publicly, but a conduct panel, held on June 9th, was attended by Munro and Wilson - but Brown declined to appear. When the conduct panel was convened, Munro and Wilson made the suggestion that they would suspend their complaints against Brown, if an investigation into all aspects of what occurred in Vernon was undertaken, and the RCCC have concluded that this is the best way forward.

In a report to the RCCC, the conduct panel identified a number of significant issues and Glasgow lawyer Michael Nicholson has now been appointed to carry out the Investigation.

His remit is to "conduct an investigation into the events that resulted in the Scottish team at the Ford World Women's Curling Championships at Vernon in March 2008 playing two games with three players, the events in Vernon following each of these games and to provide to the Chairman of the Board of the RCCC a written report on the facts found by the Investigator and to make recommendations on actions, if any, to be taken."

The investigation is expected to take four weeks to complete.

Stranraer Ice Rink representative to the RCCC, Bill Scott, said: "This seems to be taking far too long to be resolved, but I'm glad that something is finally happening."