Athletics: Radford moves cautiously on Norman: BAF's disciplinary action spells beginning of the end for the sport's powerful promotions officer. Mike Rowbottom reports

Click to follow
THE official announcement that Andy Norman, the promotions officer of the British Athletic Federation who has been linked with last month's suicide of the journalist and coach, Cliff Temple, would face disciplinary proceedings was cautiously worded.

'Neither I nor the BAF have come to any judgement at this stage,' Professor Peter Radford, the BAF executive chairman, said after Saturday's meeting of the full council. 'This will be arrived at at the end of the process and not now at the beginning.'

But there is a widespread feeling within the athletics world that Saturday's legally mindful manoeuvrings indicate the beginning of the end for a man who has accrued unmatched power and influence within British athletics as a promoter, agent and administrator.

'The procedural situation is now clear,' the BAF spokesman, Tony Ward, said. 'It is all down to Peter Radford.' Not quite. Radford has recruited the services of a top barrister, the 37-year-old David Pannick QC, to ensure every correct step is taken in the forthcoming negotiations with Norman and his legal advisers, which will start within the next few days.

Radford has to proceed, and be seen to proceed, cautiously in an atmosphere that has become increasingly emotive within the last week. The charges that Norman threatened Temple with allegations of sexual harassment received added currency when a tape recording of a conversation between the two men made on 23 July last year was broadcast for the first time on Channel 4 News and then on News at Ten.

On Friday came a disclosure by Neil Wilson of the Daily Mail that he had asked Norman to 'lay off' Temple in August, explaining that Temple was in an unstable state, and had received the following alleged response: 'If there is anything I can do to push him over the edge, I will.'

Despite the calls which there have been for an independent inquiry, Radford has favoured what is likely to be a swifter, less procedurally exhaustive process. He will hope that the hiring of independent legal advice will satisfy a body of opinion headed by Folkestone AC, Temple's former club, which had been prepared to gather enough support to call an extraordinary general meeting, had it been dissatisfied with the nature of the inquiry.

(Photograph omitted)