04 Jul 2006 Pre-2014 Releases


Published: Tuesday 04 Jul 2006


On July 3rd 2006 Alan Berry, a licensed trainer, was charged by the City of London Police with the offence of conspiracy to defraud Betfair customers. The offence charged related to the entering of Hillside Girl in a race at Carlisle on the 15th June 2003, when it is alleged that the filly was lame and/or unfit to race; and the laying of that filly to lose in that race on Betfair when he knew that she was lame and/or unfit to race.

In accordance with conditions attached to his licence when issued, Mr Berry became prevented from making any entries or declarations for horses in his care. Today he applied to the HRA for these restrictions to be lifted and we are the Panel of the HRA appointed to hear his application and to consider the future of his trainer’s licence.

The charge, if proved, would strike at the heart of racing; suggesting as it does that a trainer has improperly manipulated the outcome of a race. We observe, however, that the charge, albeit of conspiracy, relates to one race only. This is in contrast to other charges made against other people yesterday.

Alan Berry denies vehemently that he has acted in any way improperly and seeks to resume his role as a trainer which is his sole means of livelihood. He has 35 horses in his care at present, a staff of 10, and 50 owners or part owners of horses to train.

Our task is to balance the potentially conflicting interests of, on the one hand, the reputation and integrity of racing; and on the other hand the right of the individual to pursue his chosen career. Any order which we make must be proportionate to all the circumstances, and we must consider whether the proper objective of protecting the integrity of racing is so damaged by the allegations made against the applicant as to make it necessary to remove or restrict his licence to train.

We realise, and this is fundamental, that a man is innocent until found guilty. In due course a jury must decide whether this charge against Alan Berry is proved. It is not our task to attempt to assess the strength of the case against him or the strength of his defence to that case; but we note that a responsible authority, the CPS, has decided that there is sufficient evidence against him to justify this charge.

It would be at least 8 months before the trial takes place. This is a very long time over which to suspend a licence and to deprive a man of his livelihood.

If we suspend Berry’s licence we are satisfied that this would put him out of business. In the unusual circumstances to which we have referred, we feel that this would be disproportionate. Accordingly we do not do so. As the regulatory authority we will of course keep the situation under review during the weeks and months until trial since a principal concern of ours remains to uphold the integrity of racing.

Sir Michael Connell – Panel Chairman – Director of the HRA

Ben Gunn – Director of the HRA

Michael Henriques – Chairman of the HRA Licensing Committee

Tuesday 4th July 2006