There's a passage in Homage To Catalonia where Orwell is about to discuss party politics on the Republican side in the Spanish Civil War and he advises his readers that if they aren't interested, "please skip". This goes for today's column too. It's about the CAS case and the ECF. If you're not interested, that's cool - see you again on Friday.
If you're still here, I was reluctant to write about this again. Water under the bridge, reopening old wounds etc. But as the question came up, and as the role of international chess politics, Nigel Short and ECF palace intrigues continues to be controversial, it does, unfortunately, seem pertinent to establish what exactly did happen in 2011, and whether information was kept secret from ECF members as to what was being carried out in their name.
To recap. The CAS case was a legal case, financed by Garry Kasparov but nominally launched by the English and Georgian Chess Federations, in 2011, against FIDE's unconstitutional appointment of extra vice-presidents. ("Tshirt gate" refers to a variety of scandals arising from the conduct of the then ECF President, CJ de Mooi, at the British chess championships in Sheffield in July and August 2011, which continued to occupy the minds and time of ECF officials in subsequent months.)
The CAS case was launched in February 2011. The AGM referred to above took place on 15 October 2011. Although the existence of the case was made known at the meeting - by the FIDE delegate, Nigel Short - the fact of ECF involvement was not. This omission, on Short's part at least, cannot have been accidental.
When the ECF's involvement came to light, and hence the fact that ECF members had been left in the dark, then then CEO, Andrew Farthing, responded to the furore in a report1 which included the following explanation and apology.
"There was no intention to hide this matter from Council - it was genuinely overlooked." As you see, this is the same claim as is made at the top of today's piece.
It's one with which I've always struggled. In order to believe it, you have to believe that while Nigel Short was being quizzed on the ECF's relationship with FIDE, no ECF official thought to mention what Short had chosen to leave out.
But apparently they were "completely preoccupied by Tshirt gate".
OK. However, you also have to believe that there was no cause to mention it at the Finance Council meeting on 16 April 20112- when nobody's mind was "preoccupied by Tshirt gate" because it hadn't yet happened.
But apparently it was, nevertheless, "overlooked".
Ok. Perhaps you understand my scepticism. Still, you may feel, that doesn't prove anything.
But it is, I think, possible to prove that information was, in fact, deliberately hidden from ECF members.
Andrew Farthing produced a statement3 on the initiation of the case, which included a "Summary Time-line" explaining what decisions had been made and when. This is a detailed document from which the clipping below is taken.
You will note that this includes not only a reference to the minutes of an ECF Board meeting, on 26 February 2011, but a quote from those minutes.
Now as it happens, reports of Board meetings are available here. The meeting of 26 February 2011 is number 52 on the list4.
It includes various items, numbered 1-10. It includes no mention whatsoever of any discussion of the CAS case. Nor is there any suggestion that anything has been deleted.
This can only have occurred, surely, if there was a deliberate intention to withhold and hide this information. What alternative explanation can there be?
The document states "this report is a digest and summation of the decisions taken".
But not all of them, it transpires.
It also states "[this] is not an official ECF document". No. But it was presumably prepared by an ECF official.
Now, as I say, I was reluctant to return to this subject, given its potential for further rancour. Moreover I have no desire to get at Mike Gunn, whose reasons, I'll accept, are as he stated them.
But the claim that "there was no deliberate hiding of this decision" doesn't stand up. Not on this evidence. Somebody did, indeed, deliberately hide the evidence of this decision.
Somebody. But who? Who, when and why?
[1 See C16.5]
[2 Minutes available here]
[3 Statement on initiation of legal action in 2011]
[4 Screenshots have been taken of its entire content]
[Thanks to Angus French]
[Nigel Short index]