Dear SirI am writing to gain some advice and direction on an issue I currently have with the Dorset Cricket Board reagrding reporting I did for the club website, which the Board believes could constitute a breach in their disciplinary section.Section 9(d) on their League Rules states it is against the rules:d) For any player or club to be associated with any press reports which criticise the decisions and/or ability of the match officials. This also includes comments which appear on clubs websites.Rules URL: http://dorsetcricketboard.co.uk/node/352Coming from SA I have grown up with a very progressive constitution which enshrines the rights of expression - freedom of speech.I assume the UK recognises, within its own statute books, the Universal Declaration of Rights, Article 19. "Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers."My club and I are due to receive notice of a disciplinary meeting which will take place in the near future, and I seek advice on whether to fight these allegations and point to the laws which protect my freedom of expression rights, if indeed they exist, or just plead guilty and take the medicine that may be forthcoming. As you can be the consequenses are potentially punititive, so I wuld like to examine my options carefully.Any help on this would be much appreciated.Kind regardsIan Booth
System of Law: England-and-Wales
Hello Mr BoothI will do my best to help you with this.What you are talking about here are two different and contradictory sets of rules. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the European Convention of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms and the Human Rights Act, all protect your right to freedom of expression and would support absolutely your right to voice your opinions and to criticise, in this case, the decisions of match officials. However, what you have done here is to become involved in a cricket club and, in so doing, you have willingly consented to be bound by the rules of the club. Those rules, reasonably or otherwise, restrict what you can do and say in ways which have an impact on the club. If you consider a work environment, when you are employed by an employer, there are many restrictions on what you can do and say (for example, how you look, what you wear) and which are contained in your employment contract and the employee handbook. Those rules are binding on you because you have willingly agreed to accept them as part of the job. Unfortunately, you are stuck with the rules in relation to the club. Human rights protections are fundamentally protections against breaches by the State. If you had not signed up to the club and its rules but were printing articles criticising match officials, the club could do nothing and the State could do nothing because to do so would breach your right to freedom of expression. In a sense, what you have done is akin to a breach of contract and the sanction for breach will be fine or expulsion etc. My advice is to accept what they throw at you and be extremely polite and contrite (whilst feeling sick inside no doubt) in taking your medicine, in the hope that the club will be lenient. Please rate OK SERVICE or above and I will gladly answer any follow up questions you have. Best wishesJohn
Ian Glad to be of service.Please remember to rate me positively so that I am credited for helping you. Thank you very muchJohn
one last query if I may.
IanI have considered 9.14. It has been left intentionally vague so that the term reasonable is subject to interpretation and its meaning will depend on the circumstances. If the complaint was only raised at 1pm today and the reports have already been amended, with a retraction due to come tomorrow, I would certainly argue that the retraction has come within a reasonable time. If the retraction had taken two weeks and there was a lot of unnecessary delay in achieving it, when it could have been done within hours, I would call that unreasonable. Best wishesJohn
Solicitor and Advocate
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