Breeder banned from Crufts after threatening judge

Kennel Club disciplines man who lost his cool when Yogi the dog failed to get award at earlier show
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The Independent Online

A breeder whose pet dog has just won the canine world's highest accolade has been banned from next year's Crufts for threatening a judge at another show.

Moray Armstrong celebrated last Sunday as Yogi, a Hungarian vizsla co-owned by his wife, Kathryn, took the Best in Show (BIS) crown at Crufts. But his triumph was shortlived. Four days later the Kennel Club, the body that governs the dog show world, banned Mr Armstrong, who co-handles Yogi, from its events for a year. He had been threatening a show judge who placed the dog second at the Welsh Kennel Club championship last August.

On that occasion, after losing, Mr Armstrong implied he had some influence over the performance evaluation of the judge, Rachel Herbert, and said that she would not judge again. He blamed her for costing him the BIS title, a Kennel Club disciplinary hearing heard last week.

Mr Armstrong, who is a judge himself and is now unable to judge at next year's Crufts as planned, admitted saying Mrs Herbert was unlikely to judge again, and that her credibility would suffer because he would not have the chance to compete for BIS.

"We recognise it is essential that those showing dogs at events such as this maintain respectful standards in the treatment of judges and their decisions," declared a Kennel Club statement. "In this instance, Mr Armstrong's behaviour fell well below those standards. This was a repeated incident. All those officiating at licensed events are deserving of respect and the committee has a duty to protect them in this regard." The committee disqualified Mr Armstrong from attending or taking part in Kennel Club events, as well as judging them, for a year. It also fined him £500, ordered him to pay costs of £1,210, censured him and warned him over future conduct.

The club's statement quoted Mr Armstrong as admitting causing Mrs Herbert "undue upset and distress". He said: "I... accept that when my dog was placed second by Mrs Herbert, given its championship history, I was surprised by the decision and I accept that I made some unguarded and inappropriate remarks which were discreditable and prejudicial to the interests of the canine world."

Beverley Cuddy, editor of Dogs Today magazine, said the timing of the hearing was "peculiar". "I am shocked that you only get a year's ban for intimidating judges because we shouldn't have a win-at-all-costs mentality. I think the Kennel Club should have given a much stronger message that it's about the health and well-being of the dogs and it's not a game," she added.

Ms Cuddy said the incident tarnished "the whole concept of showing". "It's brought it back to the days of it being a bit scurrilous," she said. "It's not the image you'd hope the Kennel Club was going for, which was trying to make breeders seem more positive, trying to do all they could for the betterment of dogs."

Caroline Kisko, secretary of the Kennel Club, said the date of the hearing had been set "months ago" and that its timing after Crufts was "pure coincidence". The Armstrongs declined to comment.