July 28, 2006
End of the line for Fallon
No further appeal after High Court rejects challenge
Top jockey Kieren Fallon remains suspended from racing in Great Britain after Mr Justice Davis rejected his challenge to the ban imposed by the Horseracing Regulatory Authority (HRA). After the judgment was delivered, Fallon’s lawyers announced there would be no further appeal.
The interim ban was imposed on Fallon by a Special Licensing Panel of the HRA on 7 July. It was in response to charges of conspiracy to defraud, preferred against Fallon by the Crown Prosecution Service on 3 July. Fallon and several others are accused of conspiring to fix races in order that horses could be laid to lose via the Betfair betting exchange. The prohibition lasts until the criminal trial or further order.
Fallon appealed unsuccessfully to the Appeal Board of the HRA, then brought his case before the High Court.
Fallon’s Counsel, David Pannick QC, argued before Mr Justice Davis yesterday that the HRA had acted unlawfully in refusing to listen to evidence and submissions he wanted to put forward about the alleged weakness of the prosecution case against him. It was argued that in any event the prohibition was wholly disproportionate.
Giving judgment this morning, Mr Justice Davis rejected both grounds of challenge. The vice in Fallon’s argument on the first point was, he said, that it involved an invitation to second-guess the CPS. They had access to the relevant material and Mr Fallon’s lawyers did not. They were trying to cherry-pick, and the exercise was simply not valid.
As for the complaint of lack of proportionality, the court’s function was one of review. It had not been shown that the decisions made were outside the bounds of the HRA bodies’ discretionary area of judgment. Some of the submissions made on the impact of the ban on Fallon had been “overstated and overheated”. It was not the case that he and his family would be reduced to near destitution.
Whilst it remained undeniable that the ban would have very serious effects, the Panel was entitled to take account of the fact the CPS had thought fit to bring charges, so there was a prima facie case. The Panel’s conclusion that there was a possibility of further race-fixing was a judgment properly open to it, as was its finding that there was a risk of harm to the public perception of racing if a person charged with such offences was allowed to continue to ride.