Hausfeld welcomes Interim Report by Anne Whyte QC concerning allegations of systemic abuse against British Gymnastics

On 9 March 2021 Anne Whyte QC published an Interim Report summarising her findings to date in relation to the allegations of abuse against British Gymnastics that she was commissioned to investigate by UK Sport and Sport England in August 2020. The Interim Whyte Review Report provides an indication of the volume and scope of the allegations made against British Gymnastics. 

The following points are of particular significance:

  • The Review received information from nearly 400 individuals during the Call for Evidence (Para 14). Over 90 clubs and 100 coaches have been identified in submissions (Para 17).
  • One of the common themes running through the submissions was a sense that British Gymnastics had not only failed to prevent or limit such behaviours but had condoned them in the pursuit of national and international competitive success (Para 1).
  • The Review received information relating to coaching dynamics, common practices and concerns in the sport, training regimes, coach engagement with parents of gymnasts, safeguarding practices, complaints handling, and information regarding the culture across clubs. Some of the re-occurring issues emerging from the information the Review received are of bullying, belittling, extreme weight management, regular over-stretching, use of excessive physical force, training on serious injuries, gas-lighting, coercive control and a reluctance to raise complaints/lack of opportunity to do so. In a significant number of cases, the individual sharing their experiences with the Review continues to be impacted by their experiences in gymnastics, in some cases many years later (Para 17). 
  • Many individuals providing information and attending meetings have been significantly impacted by their experiences within gymnastics and find it challenging to recount difficult and sometimes traumatic experiences (Para 21).

In a response published on the British Gymnastics website, the incoming CEO of British Gymnastics comments:

"British Gymnastics welcomes the Whyte Review’s interim report. We are fully committed to doing everything possible to help the Review get the answers it needs to do what is right for the sport and gymnasts. I remain appalled by the claims I have heard and alarmed that some gymnasts do not feel that they can have their voice heard and have a future within the sport. I want to be clear to them that I will fight to ensure that no one raising concerns will ever see their gymnastic opportunities detrimentally impacted. There is no place for abuse in our sport and we are determined and committed to change it for the better. It is important to say that I have been encouraged by my conversations with the gymnastics community, including current and former gymnasts and coaches. There is a clear commitment and desire for us all to work together to drive further positive change that I will ensure happens.”

Hausfeld is instructed by a growing group of current and former gymnasts, including 4 Olympians, all of whom allege that they have sustained physical and psychological injuries as a result of the training regimes and coaching practices to which they were subjected by coaches and other personnel employed by British Gymnastics. These allegations were set out in detail in the Letter of Claim sent to British Gymnastics on 25 February 2020.

Sarah Moore, Partner at Hausfeld London, comments:

"The Interim Report published by the Whyte Review is highly corroborative of our Letter Before Action. We note the scale and seriousness of the allegations made to the Whyte Review. We urge British Gymnastics to demonstrate the organisation’s ‘clear commitment’ to ‘drive further positive change’ by engaging substantively with the individual Claimants whom we represent. We look forward to hearing from British Gymnastics in their Letter of Response due later this month."

The Interim Report.