November 23, 2017

Wallace no longer SPJA judge (updated)

The Solo Piping Judges Association of Scotland has confirmed that Robert Wallace is no longer a Senior Judge after he resigned from the organization.

No specific reasons were given for his departure, but it was widely rumoured that the SPJA was allegedly dealing with at  least four formal complaints against him and had been reviewing its disciplinary options.

“We sincerely thank Robert for his invaluable service and expertise, and wish him well in all matters piping in the future,” MacLellan said in a written statement issued by Secretary Jack Taylor.

When asked to comment on the matter, Wallace said, “I had hoped that this information would have been kept private within the SPJA and it has been released into the public domain without my permission. I have withdrawn from the Association at this juncture on a matter of principle following my attention being drawn to an issue the full facts of which became known to me only last week. For the moment I continue as an independent senior solo piping adjudicator for both ceol mor and ceol beag should competition promoters wish to call on my services in the future.”

The SPJA recently held its annual meeting where Colin MacLellan was elected Chair for a three-year term following the conclusion of incumbent Andrew Wright’s term.

+ MacLellan elected SPJA leader

Wallace has been the topic of conversation and controversy in the last year. In August, at least one competitor in the Former Winners MSR at the Argyllshire Gathering withdrew from the competition in part because Wallace was judging.

+ Oban Former Winners MSR under pressure

Last March, two competitors withdrew from the Uist & Barra competition in Glasgow. While they did not cite their rationale, it was widely alleged that it was over Wallace judging the event.

+ MacLeod, McCallum withdraw from U&B

The SPJA’s policy on disallowing teachers from judging their pupils has also been a topic of discussion. Following a memo to SPJA members by senior judge Malcolm McRae appealing for a review of the policy, a handful of SPJA judges, including Wallace, expressed their support for rescinding the conflict of interest measure. The policy was adopted in a unanimous vote of SPJA members attending the organization’s 2015 annual meeting.

+ Scotland’s Solo Piping Judges Association introduces strict conflict guidelines

The SPJA is a three-year-old organization that works to represent solo piping judging and judges in the UK. Its members are approved by committee using a fairly subjective assessment system rather than using a written and applied accreditation exams and training approach that most associations in the rest of the world have implemented.

MacLellan resigned last week as Director of Piping at the College of Piping in Glasgow, a post that Wallace occupied for 15 years before abruptly leaving the organization in 2014.

+ MacLellan resigns as College director

+ Glasgow College of Piping left in the lurch with resignation of principal

Wallace’s resignation does not necessarily mean that he can’t judge UK events. Currently, Highland games, major gatherings and invitational competitions can elect whether they use only approved SPJA judges. Among those that employed SPJA adjudicators in 2017 were the Argyllshire Gathering, the Northern Meeting, the Scottish Piping Society of London and the Glenfiddich Championship.




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