The new Cricket SA interim board has ditched Bowmans and is recruiting another law firm that will advise it how best to handle the release of the full Fundudzi forensic report to the public.
“We won’t use a law firm [Bowmans] which has been previously used by Cricket SA‚” Judith February‚ lawyer and governance expert who is part of the interim board‚ said.
The rationale behind the move was to ensure the temporary leadership starts on a clean slate as it begins its work to restore stakeholder and public confidence in the administration of the game, she said.
The interim board appointed a small subcommittee comprising retired judge Zak Yacoob‚ human resources expert Dawn Mbatha and February to assess the implications of the report and the actions that need to be taken.
“It would be for the new law firm to give us advice with regards to whatever accountability measures we have to take with regards to individuals‚ possibly,” February said.
The interim board will finalise the process to recruit a new law firm at its next meeting on Monday, she said.
The findings and recommendations of the forensic report have been at the centre of controversy since the near-500 page document was submitted to the organisation at the end of July. Cricket SA subsequently sought legal advice on how to handle the dissemination of the report to the media and public‚ and contracted Bowmans for legal advice.
The law firm advised Cricket SA that any stakeholder who wished to read the full contents of the forensic report needed to sign a non-disclosure agreement. The previous board‚ which resigned in its entirety recently‚ took counsel from Bowmans‚ who advised that non-disclosure agreements had to be signed as a non-negotiable condition to access the report.
February confirmed that the interim board did not sign the non-disclosure agreements.
The Fundudzi report records the findings of the forensic investigation and recommendations based on those findings. It includes findings adverse to certain individuals and institutions.
Bowmans advised the previous board against unrestricted release of the forensic report. The law firm said the dissemination of the report may potentially have‚ or be perceived to have‚ a detrimental impact on the interests of the implicated individuals and institutions.
The law firm advised that the uncontrolled release of the full report may also expose Cricket SA and Fundudzi to the risk of legal proceedings that may be instituted against the organisations by individuals and institutions mentioned in the document.
The previous Cricket SA board refused to release the report to the public in its entirety and said it was worried about potential litigation. February said the interim board has similar concerns but will apply its mind based on new and fresh legal advice.
Implementation of the Nicholson report to have a trimmed-down board and the forensic report were the priority of the interim board, February said.
“It is a pressing issue. That’s one of the issues and that’s why we put it in the statement [press release on Tuesday] along with the Nicholson report.”
After the advice from Bowmans‚ Beresford Williams‚ former acting Cricket SA president and board chairperson‚ wrote to parliament early in October and requested the chair of the portfolio committee on sports‚ arts & culture to make a ruling in accordance with provisions of Rule 189 of the Rules of the National Assembly‚ declaring the Fundudzi report is a confidential document‚ to be treated according to the applicable provisions of Rule 189.
The electronic copy of the Fundudzi report is password-protected. Any cricket stakeholder who wanted to read the report was provided with his or her own password separately.
In a bid to eliminate risks of the report being leaked‚ the previous Cricket SA board had requested the password only be disclosed to the MPs after the portfolio committee ordered the organisation to submit the report to them.
The electronic copy of the Fundudzi report is secured with software that can track who opened it using the password.
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