Risk Update

Sport and School Conflicts Allegations — Football Fights, Teacher Trials

Premier League accused of ‘unacceptable conflict of interest’ over use of law firm run by interim chairman” —

  • “The Premier League has been accused by the former sports minister Tracey Crouch of an ‘unacceptable conflict of interest’ for using a law firm run by its interim chairman to carry out checks on club takeovers.”
  • “Peter McCormick, who was appointed the interim chairman of the Premier League in January, is the senior partner of McCormicks Solicitors in Harrogate, Yorkshire, and is also the long-serving chairman of the Premier League’s Legal Advisory Group and Football Board and an FA board member.”
  • “McCormick’s firm has carried out the owners’ and directors’ test checks for the league when clubs are being taken over or new directors appointed, and has previously been paid hundreds of thousands of pounds in legal fees.”
  • “Crouch, who headed last year’s fan-led review of football, said the arrangement was another argument for the English game to have an independent regulator, which would carry out such checks on club takeovers.”
  • ‘”Sources have told The Times that McCormicks Solicitors was involved in the owners’ and directors’ test checks for the most recent top-flight takeover — the purchase of Newcastle United in October by a consortium led by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF). It is understood that the firm could also be used in the process for the new Chelsea owners.”
  • “Crouch told The Times: ‘This strikes me as an unacceptable conflict of interest. Any firm or organisation that carries out any checks for the owners’ and directors’ test should not be connected to any senior figure within the Premier League. This is exactly the kind of situation that would be avoided under an independent regulator.'”
  • “Other senior figures in football have privately expressed surprise about the arrangement but McCormick defended his and his firm’s roles. He told The Times: ‘Tracey Crouch has commented without checking the facts. I, along with my firm, have been an adviser on the OADT [owners’ and directors’ test] for 12 years. It was agreed before I took the interim chair that the board wished that service to continue and it was agreed that I would not participate in the decision-making process on any club takeover while interim chair. Clubs were informed of this at the shareholders’ meeting which appointed me — at which I was not present, in accordance with good practice.'”
  • “The Premier League added that McCormicks had been used to advise on the owners’ and directors’ test for more than a decade, along with other firms, and that McCormick himself would not take part in any vote by the league’s board on a takeover.”

State Supreme Court considers attorney’s ‘conflicts’ in APS test-cheating appeal” —

  • “A public defender representing six former educators convicted in the Atlanta Public Schools test-cheating scandal argued Tuesday he should not be required to represent all six clients in their appeals because to do so would raise conflicts of interest.”
  • “If forced to represent them on his own, the educators ‘would proceed with motions for a new trial with counsel divided in his loyalty, his attention, his orientation of the defense,’ Fulton County public defender Stephen Scarborough told the Georgia Supreme Court.”
  • “The appeal is occurring almost seven years after the conclusion of the trial, believed to be the longest in state history. Scarborough was appointed to represent six of the defendants on appeal, beginning with their motions for a new trial before trial judge Jerry Baxter.”
  • “At least two years after taking the case, Scarborough told Baxter he realized he should not be representing all six because they had competing interests. But Baxter, expressing frustration by the lengthy passage of time, denied Scarborough’s motion to allow his clients to have separate, conflict-free counsel.”
  • “Criminal charges were brought against Atlanta educators after The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, in both 2008 and 2009, revealed some schools were posting statistically unbelievable scores on state tests. Of the 35 educators indicted for racketeering and other offenses, 21 pleaded guilty and two died before trial. Of the 12 who stood trial, which lasted almost eight months, 11 were convicted.”
  • “During arguments, some justices expressed concern that a ruling in Scarborough’s favor would open a Pandora’s Box that would allow countless future defendants to file appeals asserting their attorneys have conflicts of interest. They also noted that even if Scarborough has an alleged conflict and is required to proceed, his clients could later file appeals seeking to correct the problem.”
  • “Even though justices worried about the precedent they might set in Scarborough’s appeal, some expressed concern about requiring Scarborough to proceed if he has divided loyalties to his six clients.”
  • “‘If my counsel is representing both of us and in order to best represent my co-defendant is required to implicate me and does so, have I received conflict-free counsel?’ Justice Charles Bethel asked. ‘No.'”