The College of Piping in Glasgow has “unreservedly apologized” via its often satirical Butterfingers blog to the solo piping judge and teacher Robert Wallace for making comments about an unnamed judge as “opinionated, mendacious and malevolent individual driven mad by his own ego, bitterness and self-interest,” saying, “although the judge was not named we accept that, to those familiar with the subject matter of the post, he would be identifiable as Robert Wallace.”
The organization, again through its satirical gossip blog, previously expressed regret about the original comments, on behalf of the 80-year-old institution co-founded by Seumas MacNeill and Thomas Pearston. Coincidentally, Wallace abruptly left the College of Piping in 2014 as a paid consultant after 15 years.
The blog post in question was in context with the withdrawal by Chris Armstrong and Roddy MacLeod from the Former Winners March, Strathspey & Reel competition at the 2017 Argyllshire Gathering, in Armstrong’s case in part because Wallace was one of the three judges assigned to the event. MacLeod did not provide a reason for his pulling out of the event.
In March 2017 MacLeod and Willie McCallum withdrew from another high-level competition that Wallace was judging, although neither contestant cited a specific reason for pulling out.
After cutting ties with the College of Piping, where he taught and edited the organization’s Piping Times magazine, Wallace started a blog on mostly Scottish matters that has frequently aimed pointed criticism at pipers and pipe bands, including those in solo competitions that Wallace judged. Wallace is also the contracted editor of the Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association’s Pipe Band magazine.
In addition, Wallace is in a dispute with the Solo Piping Judges Association over its code of conduct policy that disallows teachers from judging their pupils. The SPJA adopted the policy after a 17-0 vote by its members in favour of the resolution at its 2015 annual general meeting. The Competing Pipers Associations also asks its members to refrain from competing before their teachers.
The organization was met with a problem in the 1970s when the legendary piper Donald MacLeod asserted that then Piping Times editor MacNeill was referring to him when he wrote that prizes won by pupils of judges are not worth “a pail of spit.” Although the legal action was settled, MacNeill said that the legal costs nearly ruined the hallowed institution. MacLeod was represented pro bono by one of his non-competing students, Sandy MacPherson, a sheriff in the Sheriff Courts of Scotland.
Also coincidentally, Donald MacLeod composed the great four-part jig, “Butterfingers.”
The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines “mendacious” as: “given to or characterized by deception or falsehood or divergence from absolute truth.”