Robbie Dunne has seven days in which to appeal the findings of the independent disciplinary panel of the British Horseracing Authority that ruled he bullied and harassed fellow rider Bryony Frost.
Dunne, 36 – who denied all but one of the charges – was banned for 18 months, three of which were suspended, after being judged to have engaged in conduct at the track, online and in the weighing room that was prejudicial to the integrity, proper conduct and good reputation of racing.
In the publication of its written reasons for the ruling on Thursday, the three-person panel, which was chaired by Brian Baxter QC, said it concluded the case “overwhelmingly called for a penalty of some potency”.
It found that Dunne breached Rule (J)19 on four separate occasions, and had subjected Frost to a sustained campaign of bullying between February and September 2020, concluding that it was a “deliberate, unwarranted targeting of a colleague over a considerable time” and that “the strikingly aggravating feature was the determined consistency, in the knowledge that Ms Frost could not prepare herself for what would come next, as she was unable to predict what or where it would be”.
In making two points in a postscript to the written reasons for its judgement, the panel wrote: “First, at what point proved conduct crosses the line to become prejudicial within the meaning of Rule (J)19 or offences, on their facts, merit condign punishment, requires careful thought.
“In this case we were not troubled by any borderline decision on either guilt or sanction. The threshold in Rule (J)19 was plainly crossed and this case overwhelmingly called for a penalty of some potency. In future hearings, however, the decision might be less clear cut. In areas outwith racing, indeed outwith sport, difficult questions are sometimes said best to be answered on a case-by-case basis.
“Second, as part of our inquiry, we had to consider the culture, as it was often described, amongst the community of professional jockeys or in the weighing room. As these reasons show, we had some concerns about it. Our role was to inquire into the conduct of Mr Dunne. It is for others to reflect upon more general matters. We confine ourselves to recording our concern arising out of the specific facts of this particular case.”
Dunne is currently suspended from December 10 2021 until March 9 2023 inclusive.