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Adjudicator Reveals Detailed Content and Source of Emails

The following statement was made today by Mr Barry Donaldson to his fellow adjudicator members of the Solo Piping Judges Association (SPJA). A copy has been passed to Piping Press and is reproduced here. Text in bold is Mr Donaldson’s emphasis. The statement reads:  

Fellow Adjudicators,

Many of you will now be aware of the apology published a few days ago by the College of Piping.  This relates to communications made by Colin MacLellan to persons in Germany about my suitability to instruct at the 2017 Piping School in Lohheide, Germany.  These emails led to submission of complaints to both the CoP and SPJA.

The CoP has published an apology, however the SPJA have advised the complaint is dismissed.  Regrettably, I feel it incumbent on me to circulate the facts surrounding this matter to fellow members. The following is factual; I have supporting documents.

The Lohheide School had an existing partnership arrangement with the College of Piping which I personally helped to arrange last year. However, when I was subsequently asked by the College’s Business Manager to teach at the 2016 school, I was unavailable.

Shortly after agreeing to instruct at this year’s school, 2017, the Principal P/M Ronnie Bromhead received a number of emails from Colin, by then Director of Piping at the CoP. These concerned myself and in the absence of a satisfactory explanation, they represent a personal attack on my character and ability.

One email advised: ‘The most pressing thing at the moment is your appointment of Barry Donaldson. I’m afraid he is one of the very, very few that unfortunately is not acceptable to the College. I was talking to John Wilson today and we are both anxious this is resolved because it will impact on the school at Homburg. I hope we can talk about it but the long and short of it is that if Barry is to teach at Loheide [sic] the College would have to break its association with Loheide immediately, and I do not want to do that.’  

John is referenced in a manner suggesting he was supportive of Colin’s comments; I now know this was not the case.



On 1 September 2017 Colin advised the Principal that, as a consequence of my involvement, the CoP was terminating its association with the school, stating: ‘It remains the case that the College cannot approve him as a teacher at anything which is College connected. The reasons for this are completely sound and reasonable’.  

This comment is perhaps the most disturbing. What were these ‘sound and reasonable’ reasons Colin had for taking this stance against me?

On 14 September Colin forwarded an email to the pipe major of a German band whose members were signed up to attend the school. He stated, ‘I heard that your group goes to the College schools – unfortunately the College has had to withdraw from Lohheide because the organiser hired instructors some of which we do not think were good enough to be endorsed by the College’.  

Unfortunately the content of these emails became increasingly public, raising my concern for the potential damage to my professional position as a piping instructor, as well as my reputation within the piping world.  

On 20 September I complained to the CoP following which, on 16 November after several exchanges with the Chairman, I received a communication advising the CoP was now in a position to make ‘constructive progress’.  A few days later Colin resigned.  Thereafter the apology was posted.



My main reasons for sharing this information:

  • This matter has been circulating widely within the public domain for some time, I have been inundated with questions from various individuals, not just within the UK. The public apology has raised more questions than answers and I now I consider it appropriate that the facts are made available to you all.
  • I believe the SPJA committee have not conducted this matter as they should have. This was not about judging per se, but about integrity, honesty and respect for fellow members.
  • The terms of the Complaints Procedure have not been followed.
  • My complaint was live the week leading up to Colin’s appointment to the Chair (like many of you I was unaware of his nomination until after the AGM as his nomination was not communicated).
  • The decision by the committee that my complaint was not competent was taken directly prior to the AGM.

In conclusion, Colin has had ample opportunity to explain himself and could have attempted to build bridges, unfortunately, for whatever reason, he has chosen not to. The CoP was not able to provide an explanation.

I have been a senior judge for some 25 years and never experienced anything like this. I am angry and disturbed by what has happened and my confidence in our committee is at an all time low.

In reply to Mr Donaldson’s circular to the judges, Chairman Colin MacLellan immediately responded: ‘Could I just say that I submitted my resignation letter to the College of Piping on October 31st, 2017, and that my departure from the College was, and is, nothing but friendly and amicable. It had, and has, absolutely nothing to do with Barry Donaldson. 

‘Our Committee [SPJA] is properly taking care of Barry’s complaints, and I properly, am not party to any discussions on the matter.  This will be my one and only communication to the members of our Association.  I do not believe in mass emailing, nor do I believe in washing dirty laundry in public. I am embarrassed by Barry’s email and consider that in the College we have [sic] a perfect right to say who was acceptable or not to teach at our schools. We also have a perfect right to say who is good enough and who is not.
‘This matter has nothing to do with the affairs of the SPJA. May I take this somewhat unusual opportunity to sincerely wish everyone the very best over the Christmas period.’

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