Tee-shirt-gate: the fallout continues

I reproduce below an e-mail and open letter I received this evening from Alex McFarlane, who was the main organiser of this year’s British Championships in Sheffield. It is a sad indication of how badly wrong PR stunts can go.

Open Letter to Board 

The following is a letter I sent to all ECF Board members bar one who has asked me not to communicate with him.  To say I am disappointed with the ECF’s handling of statements made by Keene and the Sunday Times would be an understatement.  The accusations made could have serious repercussions on the ability of one of us in particular as a career could be endangered.
Open letter to all members of the ECF Board
Dear Board Member,
In early August the Sunday Times and Ray Keene via his Times_Chess ‘tweets’ published a series of allegations against a number of us involved in running the British Championship.  These allegations involved calling various officials homophobic, bigots and brutish as well as stating that we should be the subject of a police investigation.  There has been no official statement by the ECF in condemnation of Keene or the Times Group for these remarks.  On 23rd August Keene wrote that he stood by his comments.
For one of the officials in particular the allegations can have severe career threatening implications.  Pupils now regularly ‘google’ teachers (as could a potential employer).  Under these circumstances we believe that the more positive statements that are out there the better to effectively minimise the damage done by the negative ones.  Unlike the old newspaper reports these are no longer tomorrow’s fish and chip wrappers.
In this open letter I call upon Board members and any other officials to make known their views on the matter.
Should anyone ‘working’ for the ECF be subjected to this treatment without the public support of the organisation in condemning the usage of such terms?
I have gone to the Press Complaints Commission about the Sunday Times article and the complaint is being investigated.  The ST, in an attempt to justify its story, has made claims in its defence which I will not go into at this point.  I sincerely hope that these claims prove to be false.
In the absence of significant and public support from the ECF Board I will need to consider any future involvement with the ECF.  But for the location of the 2012 Championships I probably would have already walked away.
It is with considerable sorrow that I consider it necessary to make this public appeal to the Board to either demonstrate its support or to tell me that my services are no longer required.
Alex McFarlane



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