LTA missed opportunities to take action against abusive coach Daniel Sanders after 'repeated failures'

Sanders, Tim Henman’s former doubles partner, was head coach of the Wrexham Tennis Centre until 2017, when he was given a six-year prison sentence for eight counts of sexual activity with a minor

Matt Slater
Friday 25 January 2019 15:42 GMT
The Lawn Tennis Association has come under fire
The Lawn Tennis Association has come under fire (Getty Images for LTA)

An independent review has strongly criticised the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) for failing to properly investigate repeated warnings about Daniel Sanders, a senior coach who went on to sexually abuse a young female player.

Sanders, Tim Henman’s former doubles partner, was head coach of the Wrexham Tennis Centre, one of the UK’s largest elite coaching facilities, until 2017, when he was given a six-year prison sentence for eight counts of sexual activity with a minor.

But there had been numerous complaints from coaches, parents and players about bullying and inappropriate behaviour at the Wrexham centre before, so much so that it held an internal investigation in 2012 which cleared Sanders and other colleagues.

In December 2017, the LTA commissioned Sport Resolutions to set up an independent review into what happened in north Wales and that review, which was led by Christopher Quinlan QC, has now been published and its verdict is damning.

Across 178 pages, which include contributions from 77 witnesses, the review panel outlines a series of mistakes and missed opportunities to address Sanders’ behaviour and better protect the young players in his charge.

The errors start with the internal investigation in 2012, which the report explains “should not have been done...was fundamentally defective...and undertaken by people with insufficient safeguarding experience and skills for the task”.

As a result, the investigation was “seriously flawed” and led to “repeated failures” to deal with additional complaints about coaches, including Sanders, a former Tennis Wales high-performance coach of the year.

But, according to the review, the LTA and Tennis Wales also missed the 2012 warnings, with the LTA failing to launch its own investigation into Sanders, despite receiving subsequent warnings about his behaviour.

“We cannot now say whether the subsequent serious sexual assaults carried out by (Sanders) in 2016 and 2017 would have been prevented by more detailed investigations in 2012, 2013 and/or 2014,” it said.

“Our firm conclusion is that there was sufficient evidence available before 2016 to merit stronger action being taken against (Sanders).”

In a statement, LTA chief executive Scott Lloyd said: “Everyone should be able to enjoy tennis in a safe and inclusive environment and as the governing body of tennis we have a responsibility to keep children and vulnerable adults safe from harm.

“The LTA is committed to having the best safeguarding procedures possible at every level of the game, but in this case the actions taken were clearly not enough.

“I am concerned that opportunities to act were missed and we apologise sincerely to all those affected regarding this case.”

Thanking the panel for their work, Lloyd added that the LTA has undertaken “a root and branch review” of its safeguarding policies, led by newly recruited experts.

Jon Ainge, a trustee of Wrexham Tennis Club Trustee, said: “We acknowledge that Wrexham Tennis Centre missed opportunities to act and we are sincerely sorry for that.

“We accept that we could and should have done more to prioritise safeguarding and we want to reassure our members and the wider community that lessons have been learnt and new safeguarding processes are now in place.”


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