Tuesday, 18 December 2018

Rowing Club investigated

A COACH at Henley Rowing Club is being investigated by the sport’s governing body over allegations

A COACH at Henley Rowing Club is being investigated by the sport’s governing body over allegations of “inappropriate behaviour” towards junior girls.

The Henley Standard understands that British Rowing is looking at complaints of alleged bullying and favoritism in crew selection.

The independent investigation is also looking at allegations that senior officers at the club were aware of some of the alleged concerns but did not act appropriately to deal with them.

British Rowing has confirmed it has appointed Sports Resolutions, a specialist dispute resolution service, to investigate. It has also taken guidance from Oxfordshire County Council and Thames Valley Police.

Henley Rowing Club president John Friend, chairman Jeff Morgan and captain David Lister have all voluntarily stepped down from club duties until further notice.

The club has said it will operate as normal and there will be minimal disruption to the junior crews.

Mr Friend received a letter from Laura Fieldman, equity and safeguarding officer for British Rowing, informing him of the investigation. She wrote: “British rowing has received information citing allegations of inappropriate behaviour by a coach towards junior girls at Henley Rowing Club.

“It has further been alleged that senior officers at the club were aware of at least some of these concerns and did not act appropriately to address them. The coach concerned has been made aware of specific allegations relating to his conduct.”

Mr Friend told the Henley Standard: “I don’t know what these allegations are but it is likely to do with bullying. I think favoritism is part of it and not something more untoward.

“I could believe that people might think that the approach of coaches amounts to bullying, I can see that.” Mr Friend said that when this type of issue had been raised in the past the club had dealt with it appropriately.

A British Rowing spokesman said: “British Rowing can confirm an independent investigation led by Sport Resolutions is being conducted at Henley Rowing Club.

“As part of this investigation three individuals have voluntarily withdrawn themselves from club activity.

“This withdrawal should be seen as a neutral act and is standard procedure in such instances.

“In the best interests of everyone involved, British Rowing will not be commenting further at this time.”

A police spokeswoman said: “Police are aware that there is an independent investigation being conducted by Sport Resolutions after concerns were raised at British Rowing regarding Henley Rowing Club.” An Oxfordshire County Council spokesman said: “There is an ongoing investigation into concerns relating to Henley Rowing Club, which is being led by Sport Resolutions.

“The role of the local authority designated officer is to be involved in the management and oversight of allegations in relation to those who work or volunteer with children.”

Sports Resolutions said it wouldn’t comment.

Henley Rowing Club has more than 350 members and is probably the oldest open water rowing club in Britain.

In September, two celebrations were held to mark its 175th anniversary. The first saw 200 members and club supporters attend a ball at Phyllis Court Club and the second was a barbecue party at the clubhouse in Wargrave Road.

In February, the club appointed Beverley Mulrooney as the first full-time manager in its history and she pledged to encourage more people to take up the sport.

Earlier this month, members of the club refurbished the bar in the clubhouse, which including redecorating the room and having the carpets cleaned.

In 2005, the club recorded its first open win at Henley Royal Regatta when it won the Thames Cup. It picked up the inaugural Junior Women’s Quad Scull event in 2012.

Its junior squad system has achieved significant success and in 2014 won six British national junior championship gold medals and the GB France gold for its WJ16 crew.

Mr Morgan and Mr Lister declined to comment.

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