1. The Disciplinary Panel of the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) held an Enquiry on 3 and 14 May 2012 to consider whether Gary Bridgwater, a former licensed trainer, had committed breaches of the following Rules of Racing:
(i) Rule (A)50 in respect of his failure, following an official request from the BHA, to provide his telephone records for a specific period; and
(ii) Rule (A)31.2 in respect of him deliberately attempting to mislead the BHA over the provision of his telephone records.
2. The Panel heard evidence from Mr Bridgwater, who was legally represented, his wife, Mrs Gail Bridgwater, and John Burgess, a BHA Investigating Officer. The Panel also listened to a taped recording of an interview between Mr Bridgwater, Mr Burgess and Andrew Streeter, a BHA Stable Inspecting Officer, who facilitated the meeting.
3. Mr Bridgwater was a licensed trainer at the time of the initial investigation. He relinquished his licence on 14 September 2009.
4. The BHA was conducting an investigation into possible concealment of a non-registered person’s interest in racehorses. The person under investigation was Gurdip Singh, who was made an Excluded Person by order of the Disciplinary Officer on 23 May 2011, following his non co-operation with the investigation.
5. Mr Bridgwater was training a number of horses that were thought to be controlled and/or owned by Mr Singh. The BHA therefore approached Mr Bridgwater to explore this relationship.
6. Mr Bridgwater is currently a self-employed horsebox driver, and a registered stable employee of David Bridgwater, a licensed trainer.
7. Mr Burgess made a series of unannounced visits to a number of licensed trainers between 16 and 17 February 2010. He also wished to speak with Mr Bridgwater.
8. A meeting which lasted approximately 30 minutes took place between Mr Bridgwater, Mr Burgess and Mr Streeter in Mr Streeter’s car on the 17 February 2010 and was recorded without Mr Bridgwater’s consent.
9. On the 23 February 2010 Mr Bridgwater received a letter containing a Telephone Production Order (TPO) and a request for documents concerning horses he was training at the time. After an initial acceptance to co-operate, Mr & Mrs Bridgwater later became reluctant to comply. However, Mrs Bridgwater later stated that she had posted the documents on the 7 May 2010 by 1st Class mail. The BHA did not receive these. The Panel was minded to accept that Mrs Bridgwater had sent the documents; she appeared to be cogent and straightforward in her evidence, as was Mr Bridgwater.
10. Although it was suggested that Mr Burgess had requested that the documents be sent by recorded delivery, there appeared to have been several options discussed over where, how and when the telephone records should have been made available;
• to be posted1st Class or by recorded delivery.
• to be delivered in person to Mr Burgess during The Cheltenham Festival.
• for them to be handed over at a formal interview which never took place – Mr Burgess had recorded on the 25 February 2010 that “the final position as to whether the Bridgwaters will produce their telephone records will be made after interview”.
11. On the 10 June 2010, Mr Bridgwater informed Mr Burgess that the matter was now going to be dealt with by his Solicitor, Peter Watson, who subsequently wrote (23 June 2010) to the BHA informing them that he was acting for Mr Bridgwater and that all future correspondence should be sent through his law firm (Allen & Overy). Mr Watson also asked to be informed of, and was provided with, full details of the case against Mr Bridgwater.
12. During the following months the BHA and Mr Watson corresponded on 6 occasions. In the final piece of this correspondence, dated 24 June 2011, Paul Beeby, Head of the Integrity Operations Department, ended by stating:
“Before disciplinary proceedings are initiated we would like to give your client the opportunity to respond and offer an explanation for his failure to assist the investigation and/or provide the required telephone records. Please respond no later than 8 July 2011”
13. Mr Watson replied on 7 July 2011, within the requested time. He offered to provide the telephone records but, before doing so, asked if the records were still needed in the light of the investigation against Mr Singh having been concluded and the fact that Mr Bridgwater had never been called for interview. He also pointed out that the letter dated 25 November 2010 from the BHA, referred to by Mr Beeby in his letter of 24 June 2011, which was a reminder of the need for the telephone records, had never been received either by himself or Mr Bridgwater .
14. On 27 February 2012 the BHA wrote to Mr Bridgwater charging him with breaches of the Rules relating to his failure to produce his telephone records. Mr Watson pointed out that he had not received a copy of this letter but, more importantly, in deciding to charge his client, he had received neither an acknowledgement nor any answers to his letter of the 7 July 2011.
15. When giving consideration to this matter the Panel noted that:-
• The interview in the car was tape recorded without the consent of Mr Bridgwater.
• After the TPO request there followed a lack of clarity over the method of receiving the documents.
• No formal interview was arranged between the Investigating Officer and Mr Bridgwater.
• Mr Bridgwater’s solicitor offered to send a further copy of the telephone records, but prior to doing so asked for confirmation whether they were still needed in the light of the investigation into Mr Singh being concluded.
• Some correspondence between the two parties appeared to have never reached its destination.
• Mr Watson did not receive a reply to his letter of the 7 July 2011 in which he offered to provide the required documents.
16. Having considered the evidence presented the Panel found Mr Bridgwater not in breach of Rule (A)50. It was satisfied that through his solicitor Mr Bridgwater was prepared to provide the required documents to the BHA.
17. It also follows that Mr Bridgwater is not in breach of Rule (A)31.2 as the Panel accepted that the records had been posted to the BHA on the 7 May 2010.
11 June 2012