April 06, 2016

Ian Duncan resigns (again) from RSPBA judging panel

Ian Duncan as pipe-major of the Grade 1 Lothian & Borders Police Pipe Band, 2011.

In what could prove to be a watershed moment for the Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association and the organization’s adjudication governance systems, pipe band legend Ian Duncan abruptly resigned as an adjudicator allegedly over an apparent misunderstanding that blew up into major upset.

While Duncan would not comment, sources close to the matter allege that the problem stemmed from Duncan playing in a competition abroad as a “non-registered player” in a non-RSPBA-sanctioned competition with a lower grade band that he teaches.

The organization apparently took a hard line on the matter as a contravention of its rules, and warned him that, if he proceeded, he would have to resign and apply for reinstatement on the organization’s adjudication panel the next year.

Duncan’s pedigree as a pipe band leader and piping teacher are impeccable, leading three bands in Grade 1 over his more than 50-year career, including Vale of Atholl, which is regarded as one of the best bands not to win the World Championship and considered one of the greatest music innovators in pipe band history.

Duncan subsequently resigned from the judges’ panel, but was convinced to rescind his decision, and in good faith was allocated competitions to judge for the 2016 RSPBA season, but Duncan’s appeal to rejoin the panel was reportedly rejected after a two-month wait for a decision.

A source within the RSPBA who spoke on condition of anonymity said that Duncan was “very critical” of the adjudicators’ training course, which Duncan was diligently went through despite his outstanding credentials.

Several who serve on the RSPBA’s Adjudicators’ Panel Management Board – including judges Gordon Craig, Jennifer Hutcheon and Gordon Lawrie – are instructors for the organization’s training course.

As a result of the debacle, senior RSPBA adjudicators Joe Noble and John Wilson have resigned from the Adjudicators’ Panel Management Board in support of Duncan, but will apparently uphold their allocations to adjudicate in 2016.

Several sources close to the RSPBA have alleged that preferential treatment has been given at times to some applicants for the RSPBA’s adjudication accreditation, further complicating the matter.

The RSPBA’s accreditation program is one of the most stringent in the world, with pipers and drummers having to go through a rigourous application process, substantial training, shadow judging and a relatively slow progression through non-major competitions before being allowed to adjudicate any of the organization’s five championships.

The stringency of the process and a frequently alleged lack of transparency, have occasionally contributed to some of the biggest leaders in the pipe band history never judging a competition in the UK.

The matter is the latest negative news to leak from the tight-lipped RSPBA. The organization on April 4th received the full resignation of Mervyn Herron, a popular 30-year servant of the association, following his allegation that the RSPBA stacked a vote to oust him from its Board of Directors.

The RSPBA was not available for official comment on the matter.





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