Jockey fails in BHA claim

High Court upholds main findings but orders re-hearing on new evidence and length of ban

McKeown sued for a declaration that the British Horseracing Authority (“BHA”)  acted unlawfully in finding him in breach of the Rules of Racing, and for an injunction to prevent implementation of a 4 year disqualification. The BHA Appeal Board had upheld the findings of a Disciplinary Panel that, in 2004 and 2005, McKeown failed 4 times to ride his horse on its merits, and was guilty of a corrupt or fraudulent practice by assuring gamblers for reward that he would not win, and passing them “horse-related information” to enable them to place successful lay bets on his rides.

Mr Justice Stadlen rejected nearly all of McKeown’s complaints of unfairness in the findings of the Panel and Appeal Board, which included serious allegations of bias. He ordered McKeown to pay 85% of the BHA’s costs. Stadlen J found there was sufficient evidence for a Panel to have concluded that McKeown was guilty of the four non-trier offences, and of assuring his co-conspirators for reward that these rides would not be winners, so as to ensure the success of their lay bets on those rides.

However, the evidence before the Panel about the passing of horse-related inside information contained a factual error. There was a realistic chance of the Panel reducing McKeown’s penalty on a consideration of the true facts. The Appeal Board acted unlawfully in not remitting the matter to the Panel for that reason. A re-hearing is to take place on whether the corrected evidence absolves McKeown of passing on horse-related information in breach of the Rules of Racing and if so what penalty is appropriate. The ban remains in place until the re-hearing. A directions hearing is to be convened within 28 days.

5RB’s Mark Warby QC acted for the BHA, while Andrew Monson acted for Dean McKeown.

For more details and a full copy of the judgment, please see the 5RB case report.