BHA statement regarding Matthew Hopkins’ application to work in a racing stable while disqualified

05 Aug 2015 Disciplinary Integrity

In relation to the Disciplinary Panel’s decision not to approve an application from Matthew Hopkins to work in a licensed racing stable shortly after being disqualified for three years, and a subsequent PJA statement in regards to this matter, the BHA today issued the following statement.

Matthew Hopkins was disqualified for having placed 978 back bets on his Bet365 account and eight back bets and one lay bet on his Betfair account Between 28 January 2013 and 3 February 2014, during which period he was the holder of an Apprentice Jockey’s licence.

BHA Statement regarding Matthew Hopkins’ application to work in a racing stable while disqualified

Matthew Hopkins committed a serious breach of the Rules of Racing. It is a fundamental requirement for the integrity of British Racing that jockeys do not bet on racing in Britain. Matthew Hopkins breached this rule nearly 1,000 times in the space of one year alone. He also failed to be candid to investigating officers during their investigation, in a failed attempt to avoid the detection of his gambling. The Disciplinary Panel found that the nature and scale of the breaches of the Rules justified a penalty significantly above the entry point of 18 months, and therefore disqualified Hopkins for three years.

Very shortly after this penalty was imposed the BHA received an application that Hopkins be permitted to gain employment in the Racing industry, despite his three year disqualification. The Disciplinary Panel considered this application and found that “to allow the application at this early stage would risk sending out the wrong message, not only to Mr Hopkins but also the racing community, that Mr Hopkins’ conduct was not as serious as the penalty imposed on him would suggest” and that “a substantial amount of time needs to elapse before the Panel is likely to be satisfied that Mr Hopkins has been thoroughly tested out as to his ability to abide by the Rules of Racing and not relapse in respect of betting on horses.”

Nick Rust, Chief Executive of the BHA, said:

“A fundamental aspect of regulation is to find the appropriate balance whereby penalties are both fair and proportionate and also an effective deterrent to other potential transgressors. To allow an individual straight back into a working role in the sport would seriously undermine the deterrent aspect of such a penalty and send out a message that even if Rules crucial to the sport’s integrity are broken you can still earn a living from the sport. The BHA notes that the Disciplinary Panel shared the view that in this case Matthew Hopkins has forfeited that right for now.

“In his statement Paul Struthers and the PJA refer at length to Matthew Hopkins’ gambling addiction and Racing’s policy towards addiction, and we agree that it is part of the BHA’s responsibilities to consider not only the appropriate disciplinary action, but also to act in their best interests of the individual from a mental health and wellbeing perspective. In addition, it is the responsibility of the BHA to regulate and protect the sport’s reputation. It is for both of these reasons we do not believe, and the Disciplinary Panel agreed, that it would be appropriate to allow someone who has committed breaches of integrity-related rules on such a scale, and who may have a gambling addiction, to work in a racing stable and be faced with regular exposure to the temptation of betting immediately after having been disqualified from the sport for three years.

“The Disciplinary Panel have outlined that there will be opportunity for Matthew Hopkins to make a similar application in the future, once a substantial period of the disqualification has been served. The success of such an application would depend on Hopkins being shown to have been rehabilitated and also that a sufficient proportion of the penalty had been served.

“There are means of assisting Matthew Hopkins’ rehabilitation and the BHA and the racing industry will support this process. Having worked in the gambling industry for over 25 years, and from time to time having to deal with issues of gambling addiction, I have great sympathy for the personal issues Matthew Hopkins is facing. However, I also know that rehabilitation requires time and individual action if it is to succeed. I sincerely hope Matthew Hopkins can successfully complete his journey of rehabilitation, but this journey has only just begun.

“In committing the extensive breaches of such a fundamental Rule Matthew Hopkins not only let himself down but also his colleagues, respective employers and the sport as a whole. Consequently, he has to earn the right to be entrusted again with an active role in the sport – something which takes time.

“Finally, Paul Struthers himself references the ongoing integrity review. A key objective of this review is to build and increase the levels of trust between the sport’s participants, the wider public and the BHA’s Integrity Department. We have invited Paul and the PJA to play an active part in this review and this would be the forum to raise topics such as the proportionality of penalty rather than in an emotive public statement about an individual case such as that of Matthew Hopkins.”

Notes to Editors

1. The Disciplinary Panel’s reasons for refusing the application can be found here.

2. The finding and reasons of the Disciplinary Panel relating to the original hearing can be found here.