SRU Board and Council issue joint statement on Keith Russell affair

Board member Lesley Thomson QC to lead enquiry

Lesley Thomson
Lesley Thomson QC has been asked to lead a review into the Keith Russell affair ***Image: Fotosport/David Gibson***

AFTER a week of silence, a joint statement from the SRU Council and Board was issued today [Sunday] in response to the outcome of the Keith Russell employment tribunal judgement and the subsequent scathing criticism levelled by Russell against the organisation’s most senior executives.

The statement revealed that Colin Grassie,  Chairman of the Board, instigated “a full review to look at the sequence of events that led to the tribunal and matters in respect of the employment tribunal findings” on Friday 8th June, which was two days before the story broke.

This internal review will be led by Lesley Thomson QC, who has been a non-executive director sitting on the SRU’s Board since 2013.

SRU Chief Executive Mark Dodson and President Rob Flockhart spoke to the press in the USA following Scotland’s summer tour earlier today. It was their first media activity since the Keith Russell affair erupted. Stuart Bathgate was there on behalf of The Offside Line and his report will be published on this website at 10pm this evening [GMT].

SRU Council and Board offer full support for the Chief Executive… with a caveat

SRU Council keep mum as Keith Russell affair rumbles on

SRU Council to discuss fall-out from Keith Russell affair

The full statement reads –

The Council and Board of Scottish Rugby wish to offer some comments in addition to the earlier statement issued on Saturday 9 June (given below).

We acknowledge the findings of the recent employment tribunal. Both Board and Council believe the terms and outcome of the judgement require further and important consideration.

On Friday 8 June the Chairman of the Board, Colin Grassie, instigated a full review to look into the sequence of events that led to the tribunal and matters in respect of the employment tribunal findings.

This is being led by Senior Independent Non-Exec Director, and former Solicitor General, Lesley Thomson QC and will be concluded as expediently as is practicable. For the purposes of the process Ms Thomson will take independent advice and will have available to her any resources as required.

Board and Council will work through any findings and recommendations which will be incorporated into our activities going forward.

Further to recent comments made in the media in respect of the culture and staff at Scottish Rugby: these are characterisations that we as a Council and Board simply do not recognise or accept.

Our staff work tirelessly to deliver for rugby in Scotland at all levels. The values of our sport underpin our actions and culture as an organisation. Council and Board share this commitment to these values also.

We are fortunate to enjoy excellent relationships with The Scottish Government, sportscotland and all our many sponsors and partners. These enduring relationships are fundamental in enabling our sport to be successful on and off the pitch in so many ways.

The Council, Board and Staff at Scottish Rugby are committed, and aligned, to continuing to build on our current strong foundations and developing our sport at all levels.

This is demonstrated by Council and Board’s continued commitment to Agenda 3 in respect of which further documentation will follow shortly. The opportunity to debate this fully will arise at the forthcoming AGM.

In conclusion we wish to place on record our full support for our executive and staff.

Statement of 9 June 2018 –

Scottish Rugby acknowledges the outcome of the tribunal and, while there are some areas of the ruling it disagrees with, there will not be an appeal. We will now be reviewing the judgement in detail and working with Mr Russell to conclude the process.

Scottish Rugby stands by its decision to change the leadership of the domestic rugby department given the fundamental importance this area of the sport plays in all aspects of game in Scotland.

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Also in the Keith Russell Affair:

Keith Russell wins unfair dismissal case against the Scottish Rugby Union

Keith Russell: ‘Main thing Mark Dodson talked about was keeping the Council quiet’

Keith Russell: ‘The clubs as key stakeholders in the sport  is a distraction they would prefer to avoid’


World Rugby U20 Champs: Georgia victory means Scots finish tenth

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David Barnes
About David Barnes 832 Articles
David has worked as a freelance rugby journalist since 2004 covering every level of the game in Scotland for publications including The Sunday Times, The Telegraph, The Scotsman/Scotland on Sunday/Evening News, The Herald/Sunday Herald, The Daily Mail/Mail on Sunday and The Sun.


  1. I also have a number of friends who worked in SRU circles and they have also spoken about the toxic atmosphere and of being bullied and mis-treated. I’m afraid what will happen is the shutters will go up and they will close ranks as usually happens and either a scapegoat will be found or no action will be taken at all.

    Dodson is a bully and this has been shown in his desire to drive through the Suoer 6 League without listening ortaking on board the concerns of the clubs or players!

  2. Since the recent revelations concerning Mr Russell have also included the culture reaching across the higher reaches of the SRU is Ms Thomson about to investigate herself and her colleagues? Perhaps a more obviously independent QC would have served all interests far better as any report produced by a member of this Board or Council will appear tainted in the eyes of many people.

    • It is what it always is protect your back at all costs don’t ever believe you will get the full story which will already been buried toxic liars and manipulators

  3. I worked there for almost 9 years and the culture is rotten. There are the old guard from the pre 2006 days who should have been sacked years ago. There are Dodsons inner circle who are ok as long as they do what he wants..and that includes some council and board reps..and also Johnson.. who I can’t believe is still in the job. Too many unimpressive limited people earning a lot of money. There is a big player numbers/quality issue coming down the pipeline due to Dodson but he will be gone when it hits.

    • Correct neil as a former employee myself I bailed out early before retirement but dodson and Co are now surrounded by staff bullies and it is toxic I lay the blame at other’s who brought in dodson but now keep their heads low.

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