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February 27, 2007

Jockeys banned after corruption inquiry

Category: News

Four suspended and banned; gamblers warned off


Four jockeys have been found guilty of passing inside information for reward and received bans and five other people have been excluded from racing premises indefinitely by the Horseracing Regulatory Authority.

 

On Friday 16th February 2007, after a 9 day hearing in January, a Disciplinary Panel of the HRA found that Robert Winston, Robbie Fitzpatrick, Luke Fletcher and Fran Ferris were guilty of passing on inside information for reward. Each of the jockeys was also found to have lied to HRA investigators. Mr Winston was cleared of allegations that he was paid to stop horses. He was also cleared of indicating that he was willing not to try in order to ensure the success of the lay betting. For his offences his licence was suspended for one year. The other jockeys received much stiffer penalties. Mr Fitzpatrick and Mr Fletcher were banned from working in racing for 3 years. Mr Ferris was banned for 2 years.

 

The Panel found that inside information had been passed to unlicensed bookmaker Ian Nicholl. Mr Nicholl was excluded from racing premises indefinitely, as were four other licensed persons involved with the gambling.

 

The investigation centred on 37 races between June 2003 and February 2004. The Panel, chaired by Timothy Charlton QC, decided that information had been passed in relation to all but one of the races. Mr Ferris and Mr Fletcher were found to have deliberately adopted riding tactics to ensure that they would not win, but Mr Winston was cleared of not trying to win.

 

The jockeys have described themselves as shocked and disappointed at the findings and the penalty.

 

On 26 February an appeal was lodged on behalf of Mr Fitzpatrick, who is contesting the Panel’s interpretation of the “inside information” rule (which the Panel ruled covered the communication of a jockey’s opinion as to his chances) and the Panel’s finding that he was prepared to stop horses if this was necessary to ensure the success of the lay betting. The others have not appealed.

 

5RB‘s Mark Warby QC and Jacob Dean acted for the HRA and Andrew Monson represented Mr Winston, Mr Fitzpatrick and Mr Fletcher.

 

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