The BHA announced today that it has written to a number of individuals who were party to one of seven disciplinary cases where there might be grounds to claim an appearance of bias in the Panel hearing those cases. For the avoidance of doubt, no grounds for asserting any actual bias exists in these cases. The BHA is taking this action having taken advice from Leading Counsel, Ian Mill QC.
These were cases in which Matthew Lohn sat as a member of the BHA’s Disciplinary Panel following his instruction by the BHA, in October 2013, to provide advice on issues unrelated to his work as a Panel member. In these cases, the Panel found individuals in breach of the Rules of Racing and imposed a penalty. Two of the cases dismissed appeals from a decision of the racecourse stewards and confirmed the penalties, while the other five were where an individual was found in breach and a penalty was imposed. The possibility of asserting an appearance of bias in relation to these cases arises from the failure of the BHA at the time to draw to the attention of the individuals concerned the fact that the BHA had instructed Mr Lohn to do this other unrelated work.
The BHA’s letter outlines the options that are available to those affected, which includes the possibility of any challenge to the decisions made being considered in an arbitral process. In all cases the BHA is encouraging the individuals concerned to take advice and to come forward and discuss the matter should they have any concerns.
Separately, an appeal by Paul Gilligan in relation to the finding against him by a Disciplinary Panel (including Mr Lohn) on 21 and 22 March 2016 was resolved yesterday by agreement between the parties concerned. The Appeal Board Chairman, George Bartlett QC, has made an order to allow Mr Gilligan’s appeal, for the case to be remitted for redetermination by a differently constituted Disciplinary Panel and for the BHA to pay Mr Gilligan’s costs of the appeal as agreed or as determined by an Appeal Board Chairman.
Nick Rust, Chief Executive of the BHA, said:
“We are acting fairly, responsibly and proactively to deal with this matter and to address issues arising from a small number of past cases involving Matthew Lohn. We will provide support and guidance to anyone who decides to come forward to discuss any concerns that they might have and how best to resolve them.”
All cases will be dealt with based on their individual circumstances. In the interests of confidentiality, the BHA cannot make any further comment on any of the cases involved, or the individuals concerned.
Notes to Editors:
1. The British Horseracing Authority (BHA) recently decided not to contest an appeal to a decision made by a Disciplinary Panel, on the grounds of an appearance of bias. This was because the BHA had not disclosed the fact that the Chairman of the Disciplinary Panel, Matthew Lohn, had provided the BHA with advice on matters unrelated to his services as a member of the Disciplinary Panel.
2. The BHA accepted that at the time of the hearing this gave rise to an appearance of bias. One of the grounds on which the Appeal Board subsequently upheld the appeal was that there was an appearance of bias. The Appeal Board also directed that a rehearing should take place.
3. The BHA is not waiving legal privilege and does not concede any position in relation to any case.
4. The BHA’s announcement that it was taking advice from Ian Mill QC was included in this statement: http://www.britishhorseracing.com/press_releases/bha-accelerate-implementation-integrity-review-recommendations-response-issues-raised-connection-jim-best-appeal/.
5. No date has yet been set for the rehearings of cases involving Jim Best or Paul Gilligan. Announcements will be made when dates have been set.