British Rowing Statement


London, UK – 16 March 2016 – In January 2015, British Rowing, the governing body for rowing in England, was notified by a club official of Henley Rowing Club (“HRC”) of allegations of misconduct, in relation to safeguarding concerns, made against another club official.  Under their own rules, and in consultation with British Rowing, HRC conducted its own investigation into the allegations.

As a result of further allegations of misconduct and poor practice by the Management at HRC, British Rowing appointed Sport Resolutions in April 2015 to oversee the organisation of an investigation by an independent specialist on its behalf into separate allegations concerning HRC’s President, Mr. John Friend, and Chairman, Mr. Jeff Morgan.  A third individual was also the subject of investigation and that matter presently remains unresolved.  As of 15 April 2015, all three individuals voluntarily agreed not to be involved in the sport pending the outcome of the investigations.

As regards to Mr. Friend and Mr. Morgan, the cases centred on three complaints, namely:

  • failing to report safeguarding concerns in accordance with British Rowing requirements;
  • failing to act upon advice from the Club Welfare Officer (“CWO”);
  • failing to adhere to information sharing and confidentiality processes in accordance with British Rowing requirements.

For the avoidance of doubt, it is important to state that neither of these complaints nor those regarding the other ongoing investigation involved any issue of sexual misconduct.

In the case of Mr. Friend, Sport Resolutions’s report concluded that his actions tried “to dispel any possibility that the [safeguarding] concerns may have been genuine and his aim was to ensure that the matter was closed down as swiftly as possible.”  And, “he demonstrated a lack of understanding in relation to safeguarding matters, failing to accept that he did anything wrong.”

Mr. Friend also admitted to the investigator that he had provided information to a local reporter about the confidential safeguarding investigation. These actions directly caused local and national coverage and unquestionably amounted to a breach of confidentiality.

Mr. Morgan’s position was somewhat different in that Sport Resolutions concluded that he failed to ensure that the safeguarding allegations were properly investigated.  It was accepted that he acted with the best intentions and that he would, if faced with the same circumstances again, address them proactively.

Sport Resolutions’s reports into the conduct of Mr. Friend and Mr. Morgan and their responses to the reports were then considered by British Rowing’s Case Management Group (“CMG”). The CMG comprised an employee of British Rowing, a member of Welsh Rowing, and an Independent Child Protection Officer.

In accordance with Section 4 of British Rowing’s Safeguarding and Protecting Children Guidance (WG 1.7), the CMG upheld all three complaints against both Mr. Friend and Mr. Morgan.

British Rowing’s Safeguarding and Protecting Children (SPC) Policy can be found here: 

SPC policy

As a result of this, Mr. Friend has been disqualified from taking part in the sport for 12 months, effective from the 15 April 2015 until 14 April 2016.  On completion of the period of disqualification, if Mr. Friend is to participate in any rowing activities, he is required to undertake relevant safeguarding training and will be mentored for a period of at least six months by a qualified individual, pending the CMG’s recommendation to British Rowing that it is appropriate for Mr. Friend to continue with any role within a British Rowing affiliated club.

Mr. Morgan is required to undertake relevant safeguarding training and will be mentored for a period of at least six months by a qualified individual, pending the CMG’s recommendation to British Rowing that it is appropriate for Mr. Morgan to continue with any role within a British Rowing affiliated club. British Rowing recognises that Mr. Morgan has attended training before and was also an active coach. The training provided, therefore, should both be conducted by another person and be fast-tracked where possible.

Under Section 5 of the Guidance (WG 1.7), both Mr. Friend and Mr. Morgan had 14 days within which to appeal these decisions. Neither has chosen to do so.

British Rowing is extremely disappointed with the conduct of these club officials which gave rise to the need to investigate as safeguarding is of paramount importance.  It is essential that acts which compromise the safety of children are prevented and that allegations are properly investigated and proper processes are followed.  It is wholly unacceptable that attempts to investigate such allegations were frustrated by two individuals through deliberate acts to undermine the investigation or through incompetence.

British Rowing has taken the decision to make public these cases because it is important to remind those within the sport that there is a very clear obligation to investigate safeguarding complaints properly and for parents of participants to be confident that British Rowing, rowing clubs and those in leadership roles within clubs take safeguarding very seriously.  British Rowing continues to work with rowing clubs to ensure they meet the required standards for safeguarding.

In addition, British Rowing is reassured that Henley Rowing Club has responded to the incidents responsibly by co-operating with the investigation and British Rowing.  British Rowing acknowledges that in May 2015 the Club’s Management implemented its own review of the Club and began to take steps to improve its governance and adherence to best practice and we hope that this process continues.

For more information about the safeguarding workshops that British Rowing has to offer, please click here:

Safeguarding workshops

Statement by Henley Rowing Club

Henley Rowing Club acknowledges the findings in the statement published today by British Rowing and its partner, Sport Resolutions.

The Club fully and unequivocally supports the message delivered by British Rowing concerning the paramount importance of child safeguarding in any situation.

On being made aware of the complaints made against a club official, the Club immediately sought guidance from British Rowing.  Having initiated an investigation, the Club have continued to fully co-operate with British Rowing, The Club will abide by the recommendations that they have made.

Having put in place a process at the request of British Rowing, the club is disappointed at how two individuals conduct has breached the standards demanded. We take complaints made by any of our members very seriously.

Accordingly, the Club itself implemented its own detailed review of all governance across the Club soon after the complaints came to light.  Whilst the inquiry by British Rowing has concerned the conduct of two individuals, we have undertaken a separate, thorough and far-reaching review of our management processes including safeguarding policies and implemented further changes to ensure that we continue to enhance the running and operation of our Club wherever possible.

Henley Rowing Club has been in existence for over 175 years and has enjoyed a long-standing record of success and a proud position both within the local community and the world of rowing.  It remains committed to developing young rowing talent and we are proud of our record as one of the most successful junior clubs in the UK.

Our coaching staff work tirelessly to provide a supportive environment to allow the athletes to develop at their own speeds to the best of their ability and we constantly monitor for ways to improve our already high standards.

Henley Rowing Club notes the findings in relation to the two individuals and the restrictions on involvement within rowing.


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