08 Oct 2003 Pre-2014 Releases

Opening Up of Disciplinary Panel Enquiries

Published: 8 October 2003

John Maxse, PR Director, said:

The Jockey Club’s Regulatory Board have given their backing to a proposal for appeals and enquiries heard by the Disciplinary Panel into racecourse related incidents to be made open to the press.

The key factor in considering when it may be practical and possible to stage open enquiries is the timing of the forthcoming move away from 42 Portman Square to what will, hopefully, be a building adapted to meet such needs. The Regulatory Board has recommended that a firm decision be made on the matter when the timing on the move has been clarified, which will hopefully be later this year.

Due to the space restrictions of the current enquiry room it would not be possible to have more than two members of the press present at any one enquiry. This would mean a strict limit on press access for hearings which could be the subject of considerable public interest.

The Jockey Club working party tasked with reporting back to the Regulatory Board on this matter also considered the issue of opening up stewards’ enquiries on the racecourse. An important part of this process was our consultation with the jockeys, trainers, owners and racecourses, along with evidence from those who have witnessed the press present in enquiries conducted overseas.

We have an open mind on the issue and see both the merit and drawbacks of such an initiative. However, in view of the strength of opposition from the participants we do not propose any change. The matter could, however, be reconsidered when we have had the opportunity to measure the effects of opening up Disciplinary Panel enquiries.

It is worth also pointing out that in examining this issue we see a clear difference between press access and television coverage, a point which was underlined in our consultation with the interested parties. The two do not go hand in hand. As regulator, our motive for opening up enquiries is to increase the accountability and transparency of the decision making process rather than for entertainment purposes.

Notes for Editors:

1. The proposal for opening up Disciplinary Enquiries applies only to those incidents which occurred during a race itself, for example, cases of interference, running and riding enquiries and whip offences.

2. The Board’s commitment to giving press access to Disciplinary Panel enquiries can be gauged by the fact that they asked that if the move was subject to a lengthy delay the question of opening enquiries on a restricted basis be re-visited anyway.