• The Authority confirms it has investigations ongoing and files with legal advisers for consideration of possible disciplinary proceedings
• CPS and Police agree to make evidence from criminal trial available to racing’s regulator after frustrating seven month delay
Speaking about the BBC Panorama programme, Nic Coward, Chief Executive of the British Horseracing Authority, confirmed that the Authority has a number of investigations ongoing and that there are files with its legal advisers for consideration of disciplinary proceedings under the Rules of Racing.
“As the regulator our over-riding concern is to protect the integrity of racing and to do so fairly. We do not disclose information about current investigations and we are unable to discuss detail of individual cases under legal review as to do so might prejudice any future proceedings.
“As Panorama acknowledged, the sport has made major decisions to address the threats we face and we are determined to protect the betting public and the integrity of racing. The matters highlighted in the programme had already come to the attention of our Integrity Services team.”
Nic Coward also disclosed that 24 hours ahead of the Panorama programme, the Authority received telephone calls from both the Crown Prosecution Service and City of London Police agreeing to provide further evidence from the trial at the Old Bailey into alleged corruption around gambling on racing. He said:
“We have been frustrated and disappointed by the continued refusal to make available to us all the evidence from the trial so that it can be considered for breaches of the Rules of Racing. During the seven months since the end of the trial we have written to the Crown Prosecution Service on 17 different occasions attempting to obtain material disclosed in open court, some of which was apparently handed to Panorama. This includes the secretly recorded probe evidence which the programme highlighted.
“The City of London Police investigation was started as a result of information we provided. As our non-executive director Ben Gunn told Panorama, following requests by both the police and the CPS, we ‘stayed’ our own investigations and consideration of disciplinary measures against the defendants in the court case as well as others who were also the focus of information we had provided to the police. This was in response to their judgement that to have progressed would have risked prejudicing the criminal proceedings. In view of this it is doubly frustrating that because we have been denied access to all the evidence, we have been unable to conclude our review of matters raised by the trial and to discharge our duty as British horseracing’s regulator. We now intend to proceed with this as a matter of urgency.”
Ben Gunn, non-executive Director of the Authority, said:
“It is important to remember that the allegations contained in the programme relate to events several years ago. Since that time much has changed, as Panorama has recognised.
“We are now better equipped to protect the integrity of British Horseracing to a level those involved in the sport and the betting public have a right to expect. This is as a consequence of changes in recent years including more rigorous Rules of Racing, tougher penalties for breaching the Rules and a more effective Integrity function with increased investigative powers and experts including former senior police detectives, intelligence specialists and betting analysts. Racing also benefits from the Memorandum of Understanding with betting organisations.
“All these improvements have resulted in us taking disciplinary action against 12 jockeys and two trainers and a number of non-licensed individuals for serious breaches of the Rules of Racing.
“Additionally, we have seen the establishment of the Gambling Commission and a substantive criminal offence of cheat directly related to criminal behaviour in sport and betting.
“We have also introduced clear guidelines on ‘inside information’, codes of conduct and rolled-out an education programme for the sport’s participants, so now have a clear strategy for prevention and detection.”
For more information, please contact Paul Struthers, Media Relations Manager, on 020 7189 3866 or 07966 590105