Thursday, 12 January 2012

Commission cover-up

I wrote to my local MP, Dons Foster, last summer (9th June to be precise), saying the following:

"I'm writing to you now in your capacity as culture spokesman, on a matter relating to Wimbledon FC and the Football Association.

In 2002 an FA three-man Commission gave permission for Wimbledon FC to move its business to Milton Keynes. Large parts of the evidence submitted to the Commission were kept confidential at the time and still have not been made public, despite their being no reason for such secrecy to exist. It meant fans representatives were prevented knowing what the Commission saw and are still none the wiser as to why the Commission ruled as it did. They were also forced to agree not to disclose other aspects of the evidence. Link attached for a brief reminder of things:

Since the FA is not a public body, there is no way under Freedom of Information legislation to gain access to this evidence. So I ask that you and your colleagues in Parliament ask the following questions of your contacts at the FA:

1. Why was such a complete veil of secrecy thrown over the proceedings in the first place?
2. Why has all of the evidence not been published subsequently?

Given that it was such a hugely controversial decision, do the fans not have a right to see all of the evidence put forward?"
I have finally received a response from the FA in letter form, signed by current Chairman David Bernstein. Here's the relevant paragraph of the response:
"FA Rules regarding Commissions and Boards of Inquiry state that all Commission proceedings are conducted in private and that all evidence and representations are privileged. However, the Commission retains the discretion to publish reports, or any other relevant documentation, it feels appropriate and this decision is made on a case-by-case basis. Therefore it was entirely a matter for that Commission to determine what should and should have not been published and in this particular instance the panel deemed it inappropriate to make public the details of the hearing."
So there you have it, the Commission could basically cover its own tracks by only publishing what it wanted to. There's no way to make them reveal all the evidence they were submitted and they've decided to keep it secret. Why? Stinks, does it not? Closed hearings, no opportunity to study the evidence and the Commissioners able to hold back anything at all they want to. The rancid stench emanating from the 2002 FA Commission is as great as ever 10 years on.

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