Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 18 December 2014

Blackett to stay on in RFU role

RFU
RFU

Judge Jeff Blackett will not resign from his position as honorary disciplinary officer of the RFU, he announced on Friday evening.

Blackett had been considering his position after being disappointed with the RFU council's response to his report into the recruitment process which saw John Steele hired as chief executive - in particular the threat of legal action should the findings be published.

In a statement released by the RFU, Blackett said: "I have spent the last week considering my future as honorary disciplinary officer of the RFU. I have decided not to resign and, given the amount of media interest, I thought it important that I explain why."

Martyn Thomas was forced to resign as RFU chairman after a panel headed by Blackett produced a damning report into last month's sacking of Steele.Thomas warned he could take legal action if the report, which was thought to call on the chairman and eight of the RFU's nine non-executive board members to stand down immediately, was published.

"The report contains some criticism of the former chairman of the RFU, the board and some of the governance of the union," said Blackett. "We were particularly very disappointed about the amount of leaking of confidential information which caused significant reputational damage to the union.

"The recommendations were designed to restore confidence in the union, to begin to rebuild its tarnished reputation and to start a process to improve our governance.

"Council received the report and, following extensive debate, they decided not to implement all of our recommendations and left those relating to governance on the table for further discussion. They also voted after debate not to publish the report.

"Whether or not the report is published is now a matter for them and not me because they have taken ownership of it. My panel and I were disappointed by council's decisions and I indicated that I would have to consider my position.

"During the discussion the issue which caused me the most distress personally concerned a threat of legal proceedings against my panel for defamation if the report is published, which was served during the debate in council. Any such proceedings would not succeed but I felt that their, and my, integrity was being impugned.

Since it became public knowledge that I was considering resignation I have been overwhelmed by messages of support from all levels of rugby. The council and the wider rugby community is full of very good people whom I do not want to let down."

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