Kennel Club secretary, 63, quits after racist row following claims she used the phrase 'n***** in the woodpile'
- Kennel Club secretary has quit after a complaint that she used a racist phrase
- Caroline Kisko, 63, who held her position for 21 years left abruptly two weeks ago
- Kisko is said to be 'shellshocked' after the sudden loss of her position in August
The long-standing secretary of the Kennel Club has quit after a complaint that she used the expression ‘n***** in the woodpile’, The Mail on Sunday can reveal.
Caroline Kisko, official spokeswoman for the organisation she had served for 21 years, left abruptly two weeks ago after a staff member reported she had made the racist remark.
The 63-year-old official is said to have used the expression during a meeting with two colleagues, one of whom has a partner who is not caucasian.
Mrs Kisko immediately apologised. It is believed she thought the apology had been accepted.
Caroline Kisko left her job as secretary of the Kennel Club in August after complaints were made about her using the racist phrase: 'N***** in the woodpile'.
But within a fortnight of the incident last month she had left the organisation, which boasts the Queen as patron and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, as patron of its fundraising arm.
Her departure comes as Kevin McGuirk, the KC’s chief financial officer who is also responsible for human resources, is facing allegations involving racism from a current employee at a case due at an employment tribunal in November.
Mrs Kisko, daughter of vet and former Crufts chairman Mike Stockman, is said by friends to be ‘shell-shocked’ and is at home with husband Chris, near Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, where they breed and race Siberian huskies.
Her hasty departure has alarmed members of the KC board who – except for the chairman Tony Allcock, a former English bowls champion – were only informed by email on August 30 that she was leaving immediately ‘to pursue other interests’.
The KC made a public announcement later that day and also informed its 200 staff, who were astonished to be told she had resigned. The organisation and Mrs Kisko have declined to comment.
But KC insiders claim she has left with a six-figure pay-off and generous pension after signing a non-disclosure agreement that prevents her from commenting. Board members, incensed they were not consulted, last week set up a review of the decisions leading to her departure.
The crisis at the 146-year-old organisation then escalated after whistleblowers wrote a letter to each member of the board claiming that there was a climate of fear for staff at work.
The letter stated: ‘Kevin [Mr McGuirk] has created an atmosphere of tyrannical fear among staff and anyone who opposed or questioned his bullying and abusive manner has been either disciplined or dismissed.
‘The resultant atmosphere of total fear has stopped anyone coming forward to complain. Caroline was the heart and soul of the KC and we were all proud every time we saw her on TV defending the KC or heard her on the radio speaking out for all of us.
‘There are a good deal of rumours which frankly we believe may be true. If this is the case, then it is probable that Caroline was pushed out of the KC against her will.
‘There is now no one we can go to for advice, help or a shoulder to cry on as Caroline was our true inspiration.
‘Finally, we apologise for this letter but we are all too scared to tell the full truth as we would lose our jobs.’
KC chairman Mr Allcock is now under pressure to take urgent action and protect staff. Board member Dick White, a veterinary surgeon, has written to him, describing ‘a situation of unprecedented crisis’ at the KC.
Only last year, the club’s former chairman Simon Luxmoore stepped down following complaints about ‘inappropriate behaviour’, ‘inept comments’ and ‘lack of sound leadership’.
One KC insider said: ‘What has happened to Caroline is a legacy of the old regime when Kevin McGuirk was brought in. It is no secret that Caroline was disliked by Kevin who sidelined her.’
It is understood that Mr McGuirk denies any wrongdoing.