From Andrew Farthing, Chief Executive, ECF:
Following a weekend of fact-finding and discussion concerning this matter, I am now in a position to make a statement. I hope that it is understood that it would have been inappropriate to comment until the full circumstances had been determined and there had been an opportunity to discuss events with the parties involved and my fellow Board members.
Prior to the prize-giving at the British Chess Championships at Ponds Forge, Sheffield, discussions took place between the event organisers and the ECF President, CJ de Mooi which led to the latter's non-participation in the presentation. In particular, the initial conversation between arbiter Lara Barnes and CJ resulted in a misunderstanding of the former's intended message.
Both parties have since issued apologies, which I have been asked to quote in full:
Lara Barnes wrote:
(addressed to CJ de Mooi) Yesterday, before the British Championships prizegiving and having first spoken with the principal organisers, I spoke with you expressing my personal concern at the appropriateness of presenting the prizes wearing a T-shirt. The custom at the British Championships has always been for the presenting dignitary to adhere to the event's "smart casual" dress code, and I felt that I had an obligation to raise the matter.
I did not at any time seek to give the impression that I was seeking to prevent you from presenting the prizes and was in no way expressing opposition to or hostility towards the Stonewall UK message. I support Stonewall's campaign and personally raised £200 for the charity at the Sunday night quiz to 'buy' your membership of Jon Edwards's team.
I sincerely apologise to you if, despite my intentions, the way that I expressed my concerns led to a misunderstanding. You have made an enormous positive contribution to this year's Championships and to English chess since becoming ECF President, and I would not want a misunderstanding to be the cause of your ceasing your involvement.
In turn, CJ has asked me to make the following statement on his behalf:
CJ de Mooi wrote:
As I have already stated, I no doubt overreacted to Lara's comments (and I have expressed my admiration for her and the fellow arbiters) and should have referred the matter to the board (a short delay for a call to the Home Director) before discussing it with other people.
I was upset (although at no time have I used emotive terms such as 'homophobia' or 'discrimination') but that does not excuse my error of judgement.
I was extremely sorry to hear that Lara has been receiving very unpleasant emails (I have personal experience of this and know how distressing it can be) and deplore such actions. I am unaware how anyone got her contact details and this represents an intolerable invasion of privacy.
If it is considered someone else can do a better (or at least less harmful) job, I am happy to step aside but the decision on my resignation is still pending.
I truly regret any distress my actions have caused and it's never my intention to be offensive.
CJ de Mooi
On behalf of the ECF Board, I can confirm that the President's offer of resignation has been declined. The Board is grateful to CJ for his unstinting work on behalf of English chess, including a substantial contribution towards the success of the 2011 Darwin Strategic British Chess Championships.
Again on behalf of the Board, I should also like to express our appreciation towards Lara Barnes, David Welch, Alex McFarlane and the rest of the organising and controlling team at the British Championships. It is an extremely difficult job to manage a fortnight of multiple events, and their own contribution towards the success of the Championships should not be overlooked.
It is extremely regrettable that the climax of the strongest British Chess Championships of all time has been overshadowed by this incident, based on a misunderstanding. I am grateful that the parties involved have shown a willingness to draw a line under this issue, and I hope that we shall now be able to focus once more on the over-the-board achievements of British Champion Michael Adams, British Women's Champion Jovanka Houska and the other participants who helped to make this such an exciting and hard-fought event.