Libel case golfer 'not part of club's riff-raff element': Members shunned 'undesirable' player, court told

AN AMATEUR golfer accused of cheating so blatantly that it insulted his playing partner's intelligence did not belong to the club's 'riff-raff' element, a court was told yesterday.

John Buckingham, 57, is suing two fellow members of Sherwood Forest Golf Club in Nottinghamshire over allegations that during a competition he twice secretly dropped new balls to replace lost ones, while on another hole he kicked his ball to a more favourable lie.

At Nottingham County Court, Reginald Dove, 50, one of the accusers, accepted that he had described himself in a letter of complaint to a disciplinary committee as 'one of the most respected members of the club', but rejected suggestions that he considered Mr Buckingham 'part of the riff-raff'.

Mr Dove, managing director of an insurance company, told the jury that he had ignored invitations to play with Mr Buckingham after the incident in August 1990.

'Having witnessed what I had, he unfortunately was the last person I would have wanted to play with ever again,' Mr Dove said.

But he later added: ''I don't bear grudges and I do not take the view that cheats should be social outcasts forever.'

Under cross-examination by Patrick Milmo QC, for Mr Buckingham, Mr Dove said that he did not confront Mr Buckingham immediately because there were no other witnesses.

'I had never seen that action by any other player I had been with - it totally shocked and embarrassed me,' he said. Instead he 'agonised for some four or five weeks' before confiding in the club captain, who advised him to lodge a formal complaint.

The case has astounded many observers, not least because it is thought to be the first of its kind in legal history. Mr Buckingham initiated proceedings three years ago after a disciplinary hearing at Sherwood Golf Club ruled there was insufficient evidence to support all the allegations. He had demanded an apology and a contribution to the costs of defending himself, but both accusers declined - a potentially expensive refusal.

Before reaching Nottingham County Court last Wednesday, the parties had already been in front of the High Court to lodge a late defence. The hearing proper is expected to run through to next Tuesday. It will have tied up two QCs, their juniors, a judge and a raft of solicitors for a total of nine days. The judge yesterday informed the court that proceedings were costing about pounds 5,000 for each half hour.

If Mr Buckingham did cheat, it would have barely served his cause in the Sherwood Open. A disastrous score of nine on one of the closing holes knocked him out of contention. Meanwhile, Mr Dove went on to take second prize.

But Mr Dove claimed that cheating in a tournament was 'tantamount to fraud'. Instead of mentioning the matter to Mr Buckingham over a drink in the clubhouse after the round, Mr Dove wrote to the club's committee a month later detailing his accusations.

At about the same time, the committee also received a letter from Graham Rusk, 33, claiming that during a separate round on the same course, Mr Buckingham had followed his ball into a bunker on the seventh hole and then moved it.

Despite being cleared by the disciplinary committee, at which he was represented by a barrister, Mr Buckingham claimed he was shunned by other members of the club. 'The membership looked on me as a very undesirable person to play golf with,' he told the court.

'In general the attitude at Sherwood was, 'Keep away from him, don't play with him'.' He played at the club only handful of times after the hearing and finally let his membership lapse last year.

The retired insurance broker had earlier told the jury of seven women and one man that he had played golf for 15 years, starting at a municipal course while he worked for British Coal before moving to the pounds 426 a year Sherwood Forest club, which has a closed membership of 750.

'I enjoy my golf very much. It is a very important part of my social life. My life revolves around it,' he had said.

Mr Dove and Mr Rusk both deny libel, claiming that the accusations were true and that letters of complaint to the club were protected by legal privilege.

The case continues today.

(Photographs omitted)

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
Sir David Attenborough
people
Life and Style
Young girl and bowl of cereal
food + drink
News
Comic miserablist Larry David in 'Curb Your Enthusiasm'
peopleDirector of new documentary Misery Loves Comedy reveals how he got them to open up
Arts and Entertainment
Henry VIII played by Damien Lewis
tvReview: Scheming queens-in-waiting, tangled lines of succession and men of lowly birth rising to power – sound familiar?
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Sport
football
Arts and Entertainment
'The Archers' has an audience of about five million
radioA growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Ready to open the Baftas, rockers Kasabian are also ‘great film fans’
musicExclusive: Rockers promise an explosive opening to the evening
Life and Style
David Bowie by Duffy
fashion
Arts and Entertainment
Hell, yeah: members of the 369th Infantry arrive back in New York
booksWorld War Z author Max Brooks honours WW1's Harlem Hellfighters in new graphic novel
News
advertisingVideo: The company that brought you the 'Bud' 'Weis' 'Er' frogs and 'Wasssssup' ads, has something up its sleeve for Sunday's big match
Arts and Entertainment
tv
News
i100
Environment
Dame Vivienne Westwood speaking at a fracking protest outside Parliament on Monday (AP)
environment
Life and Style
tech
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Tradewind Recruitment: English Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: This post arises as a result of the need to...

Tradewind Recruitment: Class Teacher Required ASAP In Uminster

£120 - £150 per annum: Tradewind Recruitment: I am recruiting on instruction o...

Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Director - London - £70,000

£70000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Controller - Fina...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Executive - Wimbledon, SW London

£24000 - £28000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Executive - Wim...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee
World War Z author Max Brooks honours WW1's Harlem Hellfighters in new graphic novel

Max Brooks honours Harlem Hellfighters

The author talks about race, legacy and his Will Smith film option to Tim Walker
Why the league system no longer measures up

League system no longer measures up

Jon Coles, former head of standards at the Department of Education, used to be in charge of school performance rankings. He explains how he would reform the system
Valentine's Day cards: 5 best online card shops

Don't leave it to the petrol station: The best online card shops for Valentine's Day

Can't find a card you like on the high street? Try one of these sites for individual, personalised options, whatever your taste
Diego Costa: Devil in blue who upsets defences is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

Devil in blue Costa is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

The Reds are desperately missing Luis Suarez, says Ian Herbert
Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Former one-day coach says he will ‘observe’ their World Cup games – but ‘won’t be jumping up and down’
Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

Greece elections

In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

Holocaust Memorial Day

Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

Magnetic north

The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness