Sunday, May 28, 2023

Tears as shamed Oz squash official is stripped of title

Carin Clonda pictured at the time she was honoured with the Order of the Australia Medal in 2010.

Carin Clonda pictured at the time she was honoured with the Order of the Australia Medal in 2010.


A TOP squash official awarded an Order of Australia for services to the sport has been stripped of the gong after a court found she was dishonest and wanted to send the game’s NSW body broke, the Herald Sun in Melbourne is reporting.

Governor-General Quentin Bryce this week cancelled the honour for Sydney woman Carin Clonda, a former NSW Squash chief executive with junior and senior world championships, a stint as a national selector and time as an official for Australia’s 2006 Commonwealth Games team.

Breaking down in tears yesterday, the 40-year veteran of the sport confirmed the decision was linked to a scathing NSW Supreme Court judgment against her last year after Government House refused to disclose the reasons for the cancellation.

But Ms Clonda vowed to appeal the decision because she said the court was wrong and that she was the victim of a personal vendetta by NSW Squash.

“It’s disgraceful and I am absolutely shattered and gutted because I love the game of squash,” she told News Corporation.

“Thirty-nine years of absolutely giving my all to squash. I have done nothing wrong against the game.”

The court judgment shows Justice Michael Pembroke last year criticised Ms Clonda for acting with “guile and deception” in dealing with NSW Squash in 2008, two years before she received the OAM in 2010.

The court case centred on a lease arrangement Ms Clonda had to hire facilities from NSW Squash at its Thornleigh headquarters, in Sydney’s northwest.

Justice Pembroke said Ms Clonda had quietly altered an early version of a lease checked by NSW Squash with a new version that put the onus on the body to pay outgoings such as council rates, electricity and power bills instead of her.

“The plaintiff’s breaches were deliberate and recalcitrant,” he said in the judgement after Ms Clonda tried to win right of re-entry after being kicked out.

“The monetary beach was the ultimate result of the insistence by Ms Carin Clonda of a form of lease that was procured by conduct that I have characterised as dishonest.

“Some evidence suggested she wanted to send the defendant ‘broke’.”

Ms Clonda yesterday said she strongly disputed the findings, saying she was sexually harassed, bullied and intimidated by people at NSW Squash and had documentary evidence to prove it.

“They have asked me to return the award but I can’t because it went missing from my belongings at Thornleigh when they kicked me out,” she said.

NSW Squash president Dawn Moggach rejected the claims against the organisation and welcomed the OAM cancellation.

“She was very good for the sport in her early years as a junior player but the way she has conducted herself in more recent years has brought the game into disrepute.

“We have not bullied her at all but taken our legal right to reclaim our business.”

Separate from the lease dispute, Ms Clonda runs a not-for-profit consultancy outfit, Australian Squash Group, she founded with former world champion and Commonwealth Games medallist David Palmer.

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