Argyllshire Gathering Issue Statement on Recent Judges Debacle

One of the world’s top competitions for solo piping, the Argyllshire Gathering, has issued the following statement with regard to the recent controversy surrounding the perceived conflicts of interests among solo piping adjudicators.

Torquil Telfer, Piping Steward at the AG: ‘The Argyllshire Gathering will co-operate with the new ruling adopted by the Solo Piping Judges Association concerning the perceived conflict with tutors judging pupils at our competitions.

‘Each year, in early December, the Northern Meetings, in conjunction with the Argyllshire Gathering, circulates a joint Judges’ Availability form for all our major competitions to all judges. The form contains a clear instruction to the recipient to indicate which competitions he/she  cannot judge because pupils or family members are likely to be competing or those competitions which they do not wish to judge for other reasons.

From that ‘pool’ of judges and their relevant availability, we select benches which, where possible, avoid a situation whereby judges are adjudicating the same competition at either Oban or Inverness over the previous two years. We do this to avoid criticism that a judge is sitting on a particular Medal bench too often, however, with a potentially smaller pool of judges it may well transpire that we are unable to avoid such a situation. Once we have published our benches in March we do not expect to have to change them other than in circumstances such as illness or death.

‘We have our reservations about how this ruling will be reflected in judging and tutoring standards in the future. In addition, it has not escaped our notice that, despite the ruling being supported and adopted at the SPJA’s AGM, there remains a nucleus of judges -including some eminent Senior judges – who do not hold with the proscriptive nature of the ruling – as they view it.

‘We, in the past, felt that it was incumbent upon us to select benches of three Senior judges who in a 2 to 1 decision would mitigate any bias in the prize list. It is the bench, after all, which awards the prize – not the tutor and, in that respect, the Argyllshire Gathering has always placed its faith in the integrity and honesty of the judges whom we have invited to sit on our benches.

‘We, the Argyllshire Gathering, will co-operate to make sure that this ruling is adhered to, but we will not ‘police’ it.  That we view as being the responsibility of the SPJA and we expect reciprocal co-operation from the SPJA and the CPA to alleviate any problems which might arise in the future because of this ruling.’

Read our extensive coverage of this issue here.