New Information on Worlds Adjudicator Controversy: Discrepancies in Summary Sheets

Nat Russell, the adjudicator at the centre of the controversy

The background to the controversial decision to delete one judge’s results at the 2023 World Pipe Band Championships can be revealed today.

The Board of Directors of the RSPBA met last week and there was lengthy discussion on the events surrounding the Grade 1 competition on the Friday of the Worlds.

The Chairman read out comprehensive notes from the Adjudicator’s Panel Management Board (APMB) minutes regarding the removal of one adjudicator’s results from the G1 MSR results.

On the Friday of the Worlds the APMB Convener and Secretary were advised that the arena director was not satisfied with the number of numerical errors and competitor omissions within the first summary handover after the last performance and the 10-minute summation period.

The complaint centred on the director’s observations during the summation period where each individual adjudicator writes up his or her result.

The Convener said that the APMB were attending this Board meeting in an advisory capacity with a duty of care to the adjudicator and his well-being.

On the day it was made clear that confidentiality was paramount and that actual result placings should not be disclosed during the discussion as the APMB Convenor and Secretary were later judging the Grade 1 Medley.

They could only focus on the adjudication protocol and administrative adjudication procedural issues. We [the APMB] were informed that the initial handover of the individual results summary sheet was incomplete, and all bands had not been captured in the adjudicator’s data.

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There were several inaccuracies and numerical issues which had to be addressed to match up the 16 placings to the 16 bands. This took several attempts to explain to the adjudicator. The Director was genuinely worried as to what he perceived to be the adjudicator’s lack of clarity and understanding of the actions required to resolve this issue.

It was observed that the adjudicator appeared stressed in trying to complete the numerical administration which ended up with another Director being summoned to help resolve the situation.

The eventual hand over of the paperwork extended well outside the required timeline and other adjudicators had completed their paperwork and left by the time this had taken place. 

The Director was also concerned at how the adjudicator’s further editing was executed when he was offered additional time to complete his task. Even after this, there still appeared to be discrepancies.

Both the APMB Convener and Secretary agreed that this was NOT the way the adjudication summary process should be executed. Personal records and third critique copy sheets was a compulsory integral part of the process, to stay on track when trying to record an order of merit as you go. It was stated by us to them that this was not the normal adjudicator persona we had experienced in previous service from this adjudicator.

The APMB Convener suggested that a face-to-face meeting with the adjudicator should be arranged to try and resolve this amicably before the Directors made any decision. The adjudicator in question was due to judge from around 11.30 [on the Saturday] and it was felt that a meeting of this type was not conducive to good preparation or mental well-being, prior to judging a pipe band event.

It was agreed that Chairman Kevin Reilly and Director John Hughes should meet face to face with the adjudicator in question, early afternoon, after he became available from his Saturday morning adjudication duties. This would allow the adjudicator to address these issues in person and if necessary be given the opportunity to revisit and explain his summary document if he felt it necessary.

The directors were of a view that should a resolution not be found they would have no other option than to exclude his results from the overall placings process of the Grade 1 event. With this potential outcome in mind the APMB Convener was kept on standby for any further APMB required input.

A reserve judge was put in place to cover his Grade 4 morning duties. It was agreed that in the event of a potential sanction of this magnitude, a statement would need to be released to the bands. The Convener then returned to his adjudication duties.

The directors were of a view that should a resolution not be found they would have no other option than to exclude his results from the overall placings process of the Grade 1 event…….

Kevin Reilly and John Hughes met face to face with the adjudicator in question after he became available from his Saturday adjudication duties. The APMB Convener and Secretary did NOT attend this meeting as they were involved in other adjudication duties at this time.

The Chairman revealed the outcome and tone of the meeting to the Convener and Secretary on the Saturday afternoon, confirming that a decision had been taken to exclude the adjudicators submission.

In terms of additional monitoring of this situation, the critique sheets are being reviewed to assess if the narrative content supports the gist of his summary placings.

The adjudicator’s summary sheet was seen for the first time by the Convener and Vice Convener who met at Washington Street to discuss critique sheets, disparities, etc, on Tuesday, 12 September. The Secretary saw the summary sheet for the first time on Wednesday 13th September, (online) with the Convener and Vice Convener at RSPBA, HQ, to continue the annual monitoring review of 2023. The monitoring process and annual review is still ongoing.

The adjudicator’s summary sheet was seen for the first time by the remaining APMB/ADG members on Friday 15th September. First impressions from all in attendance agreed that the summary sheet had not been executed to a satisfactory standard and critique sheet content failed to support the placings submitted.

We, the APMB, therefore support the Directors findings and observations made on the day. This was a unique situation with no precedent to refer to. The RSPBA Chairman and Vice Chairman acted in a very professional manner with strong focus on the integrity of the event and the association, including all the members involved. The review is ongoing.

In response to a query as to why the Board had not called an emergency meeting on Friday/Saturday to discuss what happened regarding the G1 results, the Board meeting was advised that the issue only came to light late on Friday and it would not have been possible to hold a meeting that evening, Saturday was fully committed with all Directors busy running the competition all day.

It was confirmed that all Directors on duty on the day were consulted and it was agreed by Directors to remove one adjudicator’s summary due to his failure to follow the laid down administrative process.

The statement that was issued to the G1 bands on the Saturday of the Worlds was accurate and correct.

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