Football: Norman to be put on the spot

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The Independent Online
BRITAIN'S athletics authorities yesterday took the first formal step in a process which may lead to the dismissal of their promotions officer, Andy Norman, who has been linked with last month's suicide of the coach and writer Cliff Temple.

The newly installed executive chairman of the British Athletic Federation, Professor Peter Radford, has instituted disciplinary proceedings against Norman, who has become one of the most powerful figures in the sport in the last 20 years.

Radford, who has been assessing evidence that Norman threatened Temple with allegations of sexual harassment shortly before the writer produced a critical article on him, will meet with Norman and his legal advisers within the next few days. The chairman has appointed an independent legal assessor, David Pannick QC, to assist him in his 'forthcoming decisions'.

That will do much to assuage the calls for an independent inquiry which had been led by Temple's athletics club at Folkestone. Officials at Folkestone said they had gathered sufficient support from other clubs to call for an extraordinary general meeting if they were not satisfied with the nature of the present investigation.

Radford said he had full support for his action from the BAF management board, which met on Friday afternoon, and also from yesterday's full council meeting in Birmingham's city chambers involving 45 members from all over the country. After apparent doubts over who had the power to decide on the matter, the Federation now seems settled. 'The procedural situation is now clear,' said Tony Ward, the BAF spokesman. 'It is down to Peter Radford.'

Radford spoke to Norman's lawyers yesterday morning before releasing a carefully worded statement: 'It is the view of the executive chairman that some of the comments alleged to have been made by Mr Norman to Mr Temple and possibly some other alleged comments made by Mr Norman to others, need further inquiry, and that disciplinary proceedings in the context of Mr Norman's position as BAF's promotions director should now be set in motion.

'I began the process yesterday afternoon when I informed Mr Norman of the position. I intend to meet with Mr Norman and his legal advisers at the earliest practical date.

'Neither I nor the BAF have come to any judgement at this stage. This will be arrived at at the end of the process and not now at the beginning.'

Radford refused to say whether Norman, who is at present 'on holiday', would be suspended or whether there was a strong call at the council meeting for him to be fired. 'He is on leave,' Radford said. 'The length of that leave I cannot go into. You can take it as read that there is a great deal of interest in this matter from all parts of the athletics family at all levels.

'Views have been expressed to me very strongly, and it is important that I do not come to a view until I have had the opportunity to hear information from all sides.' Radford added that the full details of his investigation had not been discussed at the management board meeting. This was because the elected board members would probably hear any appeal made by Norman, who has refused to make any comment on the matter.

Norman has been a central factor in the rise to prominence of British athletics in recent years. As promotions officer he has negotiated television contracts central to the sport's financial wellbeing and has put together all the major domestic meetings. His additional role as a competitions agent for some of Britain's leading athletes such as Linford Christie, Colin Jackson and Sally Gunnell has earned him criticism on the grounds that he has a conflict of interests. He has always insisted that he negotiates for the athletes on behalf of the Federation and receives no money himself.

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