Bail for SP reporter

NEAL WILKINS, the Press Association's chief starting-price reporter arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to defraud on Monday, was yesterday bailed while investigations continue.

Wilkins collapsed when officers from the Metropolitan Police's Clubs and Vice Unit raided his home and he was taken to hospital. He was well enough yesterday to attend Charing Cross police station, where he was expecting to be interviewed. However, Wilkins was merely told to report back on 19 November.

He expressed his dissatisfaction at the delay and said he was available at any time to assist inquiries. "Mr Wilkins has been involved in the racing industry all of his adult life and, until the events of this week, he has never had any slur placed on his character," a statement from his solicitors said. "He is keen to see this matter resolved as expeditiously as possible so that he can return to work on the racecourse.

"Mr Wilkins is confident that there is absolutely no foundation to the as yet wholly unparticularised allegations made against him. He is gravely concerned and suspicious that his arrest was driven by others within the racing industry as an attempt to discredit him for ulterior motives."

Wilkins, 49, has been an SP reporter since 1973, one of the team of men who returns prices from the racecourse. He has appeared frequently on television, both as a guest of C4's The Morning Line and market informant for the BBC. He is one of the most recognisable figures on the southern racecourse circuit, an always immaculately dressed figure with a penchant for substantial cigars.

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