Its that time of year (again) when we look forward to one of the event highlights of the BASL calendar – the forthcoming annual Edward Grayson memorial lecture. Breaking with tradition however, this year will not be a lecture in the sense of an address from single stellar performer but rather, a panel discussion featuring four highly acclaimed contributors from the worlds of law and sport who need little (if any) introduction.
With particular thanks to Jason Saiban (solicitor and BASL Cο Secretary) together with Charles Russell LLP for hosting, Daniel Seoul (of counsel and board member) for overseeing/organizing this year's event and Mel Goldberg (the doyen of sports solicitors and BASL President) for arranging the attendance not only of himself (!) but also that of the finest Jersey born footballer to grace the Premier League and play for England, we are delighted to bring you (in no particular order):
- Adam Lewis QC;
- Jim Sturman QC;
- Mel Goldberg; and (of course)
- Graham Le Saux.
In keeping with the adage (as George Harrison put it) that 'all things must pass' and the popularity at our recent conferences of panel debates, we have chosen for the first time to vary the format of this year's eponymously named event.
But in choosing to focus the spotlight on cheating by fixing, we have sought to reflect Edward's dual belief in the Corinthian spirit and the increased role of the law in the governance of sport.
This gives Simon Pentol (of counsel and board member) the opportunity to briefly review the life/legacy of Edward Grayson and our previous lectures that bear his name to whet the appetite for this year's forthcoming event.
Edward Grayson (1925-2008)
A genuinely sports-mad barrister of yesteryear, Edward was a pioneer in the development of sports law as we now know it and the creation of a lex sportiva that governs all aspects of sport in a changing society.
Very much a self-contradiction, Edward represented the views and mores of his generation, background and class in all things – except for sport where equally contradictorily he yearned for the ideals of the Corinthians but championed the then novel concept of the intervention of the law to combat the ever-increasing levels of on-field violence and the unfairness of sports governance to balance those iniquities that then existed.
Garrulous, charming and with an encyclopedic knowledge of all sports, Edward used his legal knowhow and journalistic prowess to challenge the sporting status quo.
On leaving school, he joined the RAF for National Service but was invalided out before going on to read law at Exeter College, Oxford. His promising football career having been ended by injury, he was called to the Bar where the rest (as they say) is history . . . .
A prodigious writer, he wrote articles for The Cricketer as a precursor to his charming book Corinthians and Cricketers (1955) that set out the ideals from which he never departed.
In 1973 he became the founder president of the fledging British Society for Sport and the Law and thereafter (1978) published his ground breaking Sunday Telegraph pamphlet that proposed greater legal redress for the victims of sporting injuries that were occasioned by the ever-increasing violence in contact sports. This was unwelcome to many sports administrators who railed against legal intervention as it threatened their cozy existence.
Undaunted, Edward continued to push the existing legal boundaries in his continued writing and by acting for the claimants (plaintiffs as they were then known) in (among other cases) Currie v Barton & Rippon  (breach of natural justice in tennis), Rayner v Center Parcs  (swimming pool injury) and the now leading football injury cases of O'Neill v Fashanu and Elliott v Saunders (not his greatest day in court).
He raised the bar for legal intervention in sport in every aspect from natural justice to negligence and was responsible for creating the legal framework that we now take for granted.
This is not to say that his views are universally shared among all sports law practitioners. Edward firmly believed that 'law does not stop at the touchline' and that the criminal law should take precedence over regulation by sporting bodies. He advocated the involvement of both the civil and criminal law to both curb and sanction violent on-field incidents exemplified by (the well known) elbowing of Gary Mabbutt by John Fashanu and of Pedro Mendes by Ben Thatcher. However, a clear distinction is to be drawn between the punitive nature of the criminal law and the compensatory nature of the civil law. The use of the criminal law to regulate on-field transgressions remains contentious. Edward's views were vey much inspired by the on-field antics of the 1960s and 1970s. He was compelled to counter the violence meted out to the legendary Pele at the 1966 World Cup and the accepted behavior of the then self-styled 'hard men' such as Ron "Chopper" Harris and Norman "Bites yer Legs" Hunter who took no prisoners as they patrolled the respective backlines of Chelsea and Leeds in an uncompromising manner. Football has moved on considerably since those dark days: the 'tackle from behind' has been outlawed, the 'professional foul' is now punished by an automatic sending-off, the game is more regulated than ever, medical science has improved beyond recognition so that career-ending injuries are a rarity and the ethos of the style of play has moved away from 'the long ball' (Sam Allardyce apart – apologies, West Ham fans) to the 'total football' of Arsene Wenger's Arsenal (notwithstanding the absence of trophies since 2005 – apologies, Arsenal fans).
Whereas Edward harked back to Corinthian values when winning was secondary and good sportsmanship was everything, his views might now be unkindly regarded as both bourgeois and idealistic. This should not however be allowed to diminish his massive contribution to the evolution of sports law, the positive impact of legal principle upon sport and the advances that have been made in regulation.
His role in the establishment of BASL in 1993 to the pre-eminent sports law body it has now become owes much to Edward's foresight and commitment.
The practice and specialism of sports law is everything he once set out to achieve.
It is for these reasons that BASL has been proud to remember him by instituting a series of annual high profile lectures that bear, his name since 2009.
As befits a man of Edward's standing we have sought to honour him and his family by bringing to our members, contributions from:
- Lord Moynihan in 2009;
- Kate Hoey MP in 2010;
- Baroness Sue Campbell in 2011;
- Michael Beloff QC in 2012; and
- Richard Caborn in 2013.
All great individualists of standing and repute, each of them responsible for a telling contribution to the development of the governance of sport and each with an insight of which Edward would be proud.
Albeit breaking with the tradition of a 'one man/ one woman show', we at BASL are confident that this year's offering from such an expert and erudite panel seeking to tackle the recent growing phenomenon of cheating by 'fixing' will have earned Edward's approval and will once again prove a fitting tribute to both his legacy and his ideals.
Sport has to come to terms with how best to combat 'fixing', how most effectively to uncover it and how best to prosecute or proceed against alleged perpetrators.
In an ever-advancing technological world with greater commercial temptations on participants and the unstoppable surge in gambling and an ever-growing array of ways in which to bet, how does sport meet the challenge of 'fixing' without jettisoning the rules of natural justice?
This would doubtless be a challenge that Edward would have relished.
Our panel includes three distinguished lawyers who between them have either or both presided over or acted in the most high profile legal proceedings of 'fixing' in British sport over recent years.
From football (R v Grobbelaar, Segers and Others) to horseracing (R v Fallon and Others) to snooker (WP Billiards and Snooker Association v Stephen Lee) to name but a few, we have panel that offers first-hand experience and expert opinion.
Add to them, the insight from (arguably one of) the most respected and articulate former international and Premier League footballers and we have a glittering array of talent and expertise on the platform.
This will be an evening not to be missed - a genuine highlight of the BASL calendar and one of unrivalled excellence, so please come to be educated, entertained and inspired to lend your voice.
As they say, book early to avoid disappointment . . . . . . .