Reporting Restrictions Lifted
Published: 14 June 2002
Christopher Spence, Senior Steward of The Jockey Club, said today
“The revelations of the activities of the Wright Gang, the subject of a six year worldwide investigation without parallel in UK Drugs Law enforcement, underline racing’s vulnerability to corruption by criminals and the potential of betting as a vehicle for money laundering.
However, this must be kept in perspective. This gang operated some years ago for a period ending in the late nineties and is only coming to public notice now because reporting restrictions have been lifted covering trials over the past 2-3 years. Racing invests more than £17M a year to protect the integrity of the sport and we have taken a series of steps in recent years to increase deterrents to corruption. There is no evidence that criminal activity on anything like a similar scale is operating today.
Nevertheless I am reconvening our Integrity Review Committee to look at all the material now available and to consider what further measures are necessary to increase the effectiveness of the regulation of racing.
The greatest improvements for the protection of the punter will arise from firmer regulation of betting for which we have been calling since 1999. We welcome the Government’s plans for reform of the gambling laws published in March and urge that the necessary legislation is introduced as soon as possible.
We have studied the transcripts of sworn testimony given in Court where serious malpractice in connection with racing was admitted. In the light of that evidence and now that reporting restrictions have been lifted we are in a position to accelerate our plans for action and a further announcement will be made next week.”
14th June 2002
What The Jockey Club has done to protect racing from the activities described and admitted to during trials over the last two years.
1. In November 1996 the Jockey Club introduced a Warnings Protocol (see Note A) the announcement of which included:
“For some time the Stewards have received reports implicating a small number of jockeys and trainers in situations which cause considerable concern for the integrity of racing. The most disturbing aspect of these reports is that the information shows licensed people regularly meeting or receiving favours from known criminals.”
2. At the same time the Jockey Club began pressing the Home Office for access to criminal records in order to help keep undesirables out of racing, through ownership or other involvements. A final decision from the Home Office is expected later this year.
3. In 1997 the Jockey Club, restricted by its limited powers, was sufficiently concerned to contact the police and pass on information to them regarding alleged criminal activity.
4. In May 1999 the Jockey Club’s Licensing Steward enclosed with all National Hunt jockeys’ licences for the 1999/2000 season a letter warning them to be careful with whom they associate.
“I would like to take this opportunity to remind you of the dangers of regularly meeting with people who might wish to corrupt horseracing. Additionally, you should avoid receiving favours from such people which could put you in a compromising position at a later date…I thought I should warn all jockeys that there have been instances where licensed persons have accepted favours or hospitality (such as holidays or nights ‘out on the town’) and have subsequently found themselves compromised.”
5. In autumn 1999 the Jockey Club established its own Integrity Review Committee. The aims of the committee were to seek changes in the criminal law in relation to horseracing and to press for greater regulation of betting. In addition the group were also tasked with reviewing the effectiveness of existing rules and instructions within racing.
6. In December 1999, Christopher Spence, in his speech at the Gimcrack Dinner, publicly expressed his concern about racing’s vulnerability to corruption and called for firm regulation both of racing and betting.
“I do not believe the integrity of racing is under threats to which we cannot find the answers and I have no wish to be accused of scaremongering, but its vulnerability to criminal activity and corrupting influences through the betting it attracts needs to be addressed.”
7. Later that month, the Government announced their intention to set up a review of gambling legislation. The Senior Steward warmly welcomed the Home Secretary’s announcement.
“For some time we have expressed our concern about the threats to racing arising from the lack of regulation of betting. The future commercial success of British horseracing is dependent upon there being continued belief in the integrity of the sport. It is encouraging news that Government appears ready to introduce legislation that reflects the modern world of gambling.”
8. In September 2000 the Jockey Club revealed the contents of its submission to the Gambling Review Body. The Jockey Club called on the Government, amongst other things, to:-
(a) Introduce a single statutory authority to regulate all gambling including betting;
(b) to ensure that betting organisations had a duty to provide information concerning betting activity on events under scrutiny;
(c) to ensure that betting organisations adopted money laundering compliance regulations;
(d) to establish a formal “gateway” for information flow between the new Gambling Regulator and Racing’s Regulator;
(e) to allow The Jockey Club access to full criminal records.
The submission reiterated the Jockey Club’s concerns: “Actual cases of corruption or attempts at race fixing are rare but, as with any sport where there is betting, racing is vulnerable to criminal activity. Indeed, horseracing and betting are inextricably linked and both require firm regulation.”
“It is also apparent that criminals and illegal layers actively attempt to cultivate jockeys, trainers and stable employees with a view to obtaining information about horses, particularly those that are unlikely to win (whether for valid reasons or through malpractice.)”
9. In December 2000, following the completion of the report by the Integrity Review Committee, the Jockey Club announced the introduction of further measures to protect racing’s integrity. The main objectives of the measures were:
a) To deter licensed persons passing on information for reward about horses which is not publicly available;
b) To place strict limits on associations between jockeys and betting organisations at the racecourse;
c) To make it an offence for any persons subject to the Rules of Racing to obstruct Jockey Club investigations;
d) To introduce Codes of Conduct for trainers and jockeys covering such matters as associations with those that may pose a threat to the integrity of horseracing, relationships with betting organisations, and duties to report malpractice and unusual financial transactions.
10. In July 2001 Sir Alan Budd’s Gambling Review Body published its findings and recommendations, including the recommendation for the establishment of a Gambling Commission. The Report also stated that it had received submissions from the Jockey Club, Metropolitan Police and the National Crime Intelligence Service all expressing concerns about under-regulation of betting and the opportunities for money laundering offered by betting. Clearly accepting the need for action the report said:
“We recommend that the Gambling Commission should work cl