BBC Women's Hour - British Gymnastics CEO acknowledges that British Gymnastics must “act quickly”
On Monday 24 October, CEO of British Gymnastics, Sarah Powell, and Hausfeld client/CEO of Gymnasts’ for Change, Claire Heafford appeared on BBC Woman’s Hour to discuss British Gymnastics’ response to the recommendations made in the Whyte Review, which were published earlier this month in a document entitled “Reform 25”.
Sarah Powell acknowledged that a “deep seated change in culture” was required within British Gymnastics and described the recounts of alleged abuse suffered by former gymnasts, many of whom are Hausfeld clients, as “heart-breaking”. Powell acknowledged that whilst the publication of Reform 25 was a positive step forward, she was also aware of the “long list of legal claims outstanding” and that British Gymnastics needed to “act quickly” in order to “move forward” as an organisation.
Also speaking on Woman’s Hour, Claire Heafford, Hausfeld client and co-founder of Gymnasts’ For Change, acknowledged that broadly speaking the publication of Reform 25 is a positive step forward for the gymnastic community, that Sarah Powell is a different proposition to the former CEO of British Gymnastics and that Reform 25 represents what Claire refers to as “the green shoots of change”. However, Claire also noted that: “BG have always been good at saying what Sport UK has wanted to hear but changes need to be substantive rather than performative. They know what to say but perhaps do not know what to do.” Confidence in the community remains low.
"Key personnel changes have been made but there is still a backlog of investigations. 300 cases have not been looked at. It is vital that the legal claims we have put forward are settled as without settling these legal claims BG won’t have a full picture of what was going on in the gyms and therefore what needs to change.”Claire Heafford, Co-Founder Gymnasts for Change
Claire also pointed out that despite Powell’s commitment to reform no coaches have been banned or sanctioned as a result of the damning Whyte Review published earlier in the year.
Commenting on the interview, Sarah Moore, acting on behalf of 38 former gymnasts alleging physical and emotional abuse by coaches and volunteers contracted by British Gymnastics commented: “It is good to hear Sarah Powell openly admitting the need to engage substantively with the legal claims and to ensure that progress is made more rapidly towards resolution of these claims. Powell is quite right that until these claims are dealt with British Gymnastics will not be able to move forward constructively. Reform 25 is a positive publication, with sound commitments for the future – but those words will be meaningless if British Gymnastics does not face up to its past failings and progress the outstanding legal claims towards resolution more rapidly”.
You can listen to the Women's Hour BBC podcast (starts at 35:57).
Hausfeld are working with Gymnasts’ for Change in relation to these claims.