Result of an enquiry (K. Clutterbuck) heard by the Disciplinary Panel on Thursday 6 November 2014
1. The Disciplinary Panel of the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) on Thursday 6 November 2014 held an enquiry in to an allegation by BHA that Mr Kenneth Clutterbuck (“KC”) was in breach of Rule (A)30.3.1, in that he associated with Mr James Clutterbuck (“JC”), a Disqualified Person, in connection with horseracing in Great Britain during a period when “KC” was a licensed trainer.
2. It was not disputed that throughout 2013 and until 18 June 2014 (when the Licensing Committee of the BHA suspended KC’s licence to train) that KC was a licensed trainer. He is the father of JC.
Nor was it disputed that JC was disqualified by the Disciplinary Panel after admitting breaches of the Rules of Racing on the 29 April 2013 and that the disqualification continues until 28 June 2015. At the time JC’s disqualification was imposed he was Assistant Trainer to KC.
3. After JC’s disqualification, BHA wrote to KC on 19 June 2013 to ensure that he was fully aware of the restrictions concerning contact with Disqualified Persons and also sought assurances that sufficient controls had been introduced by KC at Pond House Stables, Exning, Newmarket (“The Yard”) to ensure that any contact with JC would not place him in breach of the Rules of Racing. KC replied on 25 June 2013 that JC was now running KC’s public house (the Wheatsheaf, Exning) and that both KC and JC understood the Rules and Regulations relating to the disqualification, were fully abiding by them and would continue to do so.
4. On 14 October 2013, JC applied for dispensation from his disqualification, so that he could take up employment in his father’s yard. The BHA formally objected to this application and the matter was referred to the Chairman of the Disciplinary Panel.
5. On 29 October 2013, two BHA Investigating Officers (Mr Malcolm Carson and Mr Stuart Williams) paid an unannounced visit to KC’s yard. They stated that they found JC and Eleanor Stirk (his partner – who at the time of the visit had taken over as Assistant Trainer to KC at the Yard) and their infant son in the yard, and that JC had straw and hay particles in his hair and his work boots appeared dirty.
JC, in an email sent to the Disciplinary Department of the BHA later on in the morning of 29 October 2013, denied he was working in the yard and said he had only gone to collect their infant son from his partner because they had no car to transport him as it had gone in for an MOT that morning.
Subsequently, both JC and KC claimed that JC was not on licensed premises when seen by the BHA Investigating Officers on 29 October 2013.
6. On 16 January 2014, the Disciplinary Panel gave written reasons for refusing JC’s application for dispensation from disqualification.
7. On Tuesday 3 June 2014 at about 7.15 a.m., BHA Investigating Officers paid their second unannounced visit to the yard. The BHA Investigating Officers on this occasion were Mr John Burgess and Mr Tim Miller. They stated they found JC working in the yard. JC said he had only come to the yard at about 7.00 a.m. that morning because Eleanor Stirk had a chest infection and could not come to the yard to feed and muck out. JC stated his father was unaware that he was on the yard.
8. Following the stable inspection, the BHA Investigating Officers subsequently located KC, JC and Eleanor Stirk at the Horseshoes Public House, Newmarket which KC had purchased about six weeks previously and was renovating. It was arranged that both KC and JC would subsequently be formally interviewed by the BHA.
9. Accordingly, on 10 June 2014, KC was formally interviewed by Messrs Burgess and Miller. In the interview, KC maintained that so far as he was aware, JC had not been in the yard at all since his disqualification. He said that JC had not been on a licensed part of the premises at the time of the unannounced visit of 29 October 2013 and, in any event, was only pushing a child in a pram and not working.
On the occasion of the second unannounced visit on 3 June 2014, KC maintained that he, himself, had already fed the horses at 5.30 a.m., had left the yard and did not know that JC had entered the yard at any stage that morning. He said that in recent weeks, JC and Eleanor Stirk had been living and working at the Horseshoes Public House. On 3 June 2014, he said, Eleanor Stirk had been ill and unable to work and JC, without telling either him or Eleanor Stirk, had taken it upon himself to go up to the yard and look after the horses to save KC from having to do it as he knew KC had a busy day. KC said that when he later learned that JC had been working in the yard that morning, he severely reprimanded him.
KC said that the knowledge that JC appeared to have of the seven horses in the stable was likely to have been acquired from Eleanor Stirk, who did work at the yard and had been his Assistant Trainer and was JC’s partner.
10. JC was formally interviewed by Messrs Burgess and Miller on 19 June 2014. He maintained that on 29 October 2013, he was not working in the yard but was in smart clothes pushing a baby round in a pram, and, in any event, was not on licensed premises but just outside the gates.
As to the unannounced visit on 3 June 2014, he said that his partner, “Ellie”, had woken up feeling ill and, although she had not said she was not going to work at the stables, she had fallen back to sleep. JC, without telling her where he was going, or informing KC, had gone up to the stables as a favour to both of them and fed, watered and mucked out at least some of the horses. JC said that KC had no idea that he was in the yard until the BHA Investigating Officers had telephoned KC to inform him that they had found JC in the yard.
11. At the Disciplinary Hearing, the Panel heard from Messrs Burgess and Carson for the BHA and from KC himself.
12. (1) 29 October 2014: The Panel accepts the evidence of Mr Carson that he and the other BHA Investigating Officer, Mr Williams, found JC in the yard and that this was part of the licensed premises where he should not have been. As Mr Carson told the Panel, the Investigating Officers had gone through the gates and into the yard where they saw JC. Mr Carson said there were no further gates in front of them to go through. The Panel also took into account that in an email sent later that very morning, JC never alleged he was not on licensed premises and this aspect was not raised with the BHA until many months later. Furthermore, JC was not called at the hearing so that his version of events could be tested. Also, KC was not at the scene at the material time and could not say from his own direct knowledge where JC was found by the BHA Investigating Officers.
The Panel further accepted the evidence of the BHA Investigating Officers, and in particular that of Mr Carson who gave evidence to the Panel, that JC had straw and hay particles in his hair and his working boots appeared dirty and that he gave Mr Carson the impression that he was then working in the yard. Whether or not JC had also come to collect his son, the Panel is satisfied that, on this occasion it is likely that JC had been working in the yard.
(2) On 3 June 2014, JC accepts that he was found working in the yard and there is clear evidence from the BHA Investigating Officers (Messrs Burgess and Miller) that this was so. The Panel accepts that JC was seen on their approach, cleaning out a bucket or manger and shortly afterwards was found in a stable, apparently trying to remain undetected whilst a bucket of water filled up outside the stable.
Although both KC and JC subsequently maintained that KC had no idea that JC was working in the yard that morning, having considered all the information before it, the Panel considers that it is likely that KC did, in fact, have such knowledge and was agreeable to it. In particular, the Panel was invited by KC to rely on the accounts of what occurred that morning as described by JC in interview, and also by Eleanor Stirk. Neither was called to give evidence before the Panel and have their accounts tested. The Panel noted that KC alleged that his relationship with JC had now broken down. The Panel considered the complicated account of how JC came to be working in the yard that morning to be unlikely. For example, that JC had gone to the yard without informing either KC or Eleanor Stirk that he was doing so and apparently leaving her asleep when there were children to be woken and attended to; the fact that neither JC or Eleanor Stirk contacted KC to inform him as to what was happening; the internal inconsistencies in JC’s own account as given in interview (i.e. at one point maintaining that he had no interest in horses or racing since his disqualification, and, at other points agreeing that he read The Racing Post every day).
The Panel, having considered all the information before it, was satisfied that both in October 2013 and June 2014, the lives of KC and JC were closely intertwined. They lived geographically close to one another, JC latterly lived in a public house owned by KC, and they clearly met on a regular basis. It is agreed that prior to the second unannounced visit, they met daily. JC’s description in interview of the horses in the yard and what he fed them, showed a detailed knowledge of the yard. The Panel considers it more likely that this knowledge was gathered first hand by JC, rather than as reported to him by his partner.
The Panel also concludes that it is highly unlikely that on the two occasions (over six months apart) that the BHA made unannounced visits to the yard, JC on both occasions was working in the yard unbeknown to KC. The prospect of this being an unhappy coincidence for KC is considered by the Panel, in all the circumstances, to be most unlikely.
13. The Panel is therefore satisfied that KC is in breach of Rule (A)30.3.1 as alleged. Whilst it is not possible to specify other dates and times when JC worked in the yard during this period, the Panel considers that the likelihood is that it occurred on a number of other occasions and that the 29 October 2013 and 3 June 2014 were not the only occasions.
14. The BHA did not seek disqualification but suggested a period during which KC would be ineligible to hold any licence or permit or registration under the Rules of Racing.
The Panel considered the breach of Rule (A)30.3.1 to be aggravated by the fact that it occurred notwithstanding that JC’s application for dispensation from disqualification had been refused. At the same time, the Panel noted that KC’s training licence had been suspended since 18 June 2014 and that he had voluntarily relinquished his training licence at the end of August 2014. The Panel noted that he was now 67 years of age and had previously been involved in racing for many years.
In all the circumstances, the Panel ordered that KC be ineligible to hold any licence or permit or registration under the Rules of Racing for a period of five years, effective from 6 November 2014.
Notes to editors:
1. The Panel for the enquiry was: Philip Curl (Chair), Didi Powles, Ian Stark.