BHA to review appeal panel structure

The British Horseracing Authority will review the structure of its appeal panels, stating its view that such groups should “be appropriately diverse and inclusive at all times”.

The ruling body issued a statement after the publication of the written reasons of the panel who presided over Robbie Dunne’s partially successful appeal against an 18-month ban.

Dunne was found to have bullied and harassed fellow rider Bryony Frost at an initial hearing in December, with the jockey banned for 18 months, with three months suspended.

However, the punishment was reduced to 10 months at an appeal last month, with the panel thinking the penalty was too severe and that the original hearing overstated the impact of Dunne’s actions on the wider public and racing community. They also felt Dunne had not been given sufficient credit for an attempted apology to Frost and for admitting to one breach of the rules.

The tone of the appeal hearing was subsequently questioned in some quarters, however, along with the composition of the panel, which was all male.

The BHA’s statement read: “The decision of the independent Appeal Board confirms that Mr Dunne’s conduct, described as “reprehensible and disgraceful”, was of a nature that cannot and will not be tolerated anywhere within the sport of horseracing.

“While the BHA considers the original 18-month period of suspension (with the final three months of this suspended) to have been an appropriate penalty for this conduct, it accepts the decision of the independent Appeal Board to reduce this penalty.

“Calling out this behaviour required considerable courage and the BHA remains committed to creating an environment within our sport whereby everybody feels empowered to challenge inappropriate behaviour where they see it and feels comfortable in doing so.

“While it is fair to point out that both sides received an opportunity to articulate their arguments before the independent Appeal Board, the BHA is aware of the criticisms of the tone and management of the Appeal Board hearing, and recognises and shares these concerns.

“A review of the Appeal Board structure was discussed some time prior to this hearing and the BHA will be working with the independent Judicial Panel Chair on a review of the Appeal Board framework in the coming months.

“It is the BHA’s view that such panels, as well as having the appropriate legal skills and experience, ought also to be appropriately diverse and inclusive at all times.”

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