Racing: Jockey Club abandons inquiry into Fallon

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The Independent Online

Kieren Fallon can now look forward to a Christmas of giggling children, mince pies and roaring log fires following the announcement that the Jockey Club have abandoned their inquiry into whether the former champion jockey has brought racing into disrepute.

Kieren Fallon can now look forward to a Christmas of giggling children, mince pies and roaring log fires following the announcement that the Jockey Club have abandoned their inquiry into whether the former champion jockey has brought racing into disrepute.

After advice from their legal team, the Jockey Club has dropped the probe into Fallon and his friend and fellow jockey John Egan in the wake of damaging articles published in the News Of The World. Those stories were the product of a meeting between the riders and undercover reporters.

"We no longer consider that there is sufficient evidence to merit a disciplinary hearing," John Maxse, for the Jockey Club, said yesterday. "There can be no argument that the articles in question and the accompanying media coverage in general damaged the reputation of British racing. After reviewing the dossier initially handed over by the News of the World, it was considered that there was evidence to warrant holding an inquiry which would seek to establish whether or not Kieren Fallon and John Egan, through their dealings with the reporters, were culpable for the ensuing negative coverage racing received.

"Since that decision was taken, however, additional material from the News Of The World has been received. After examining the material in total and having taken advice from our legal team, we no longer consider that there is sufficient evidence to merit a disciplinary hearing."

Nevertheless, it is still not all harmony at the base of Fallon's chimney. He was one of 25 people recently arrested by the City Of London Police on alleged conspiracies to defraud and bailed to appear at a police station next April. Maxse added: "The police investigation is much broader in scope than the matters which were to form the basis of the Jockey Club inquiry into Kieren Fallon and John Egan's conduct with the News Of The World undercover reporters."

Fallon announced an abandonment of his own yesterday. He will not now send transcripts of the secret tape recordings made by the reporters to around 100 of the leading figures in racing. "He will not now be publishing the transcripts of the News Of The World tapes, because the purpose of that was to do something to clear his name," Christopher Stewart-Moore, the solicitor, said yesterday.

"I have spoken to Kieren and he told me he is glad to have been cleared of all of the News Of The World allegations by the Jockey Club, which have been proved to have been completely unfounded, and he looks forward to the results of the police inquiry. He has instructed his solicitors to obtain a retraction from the News Of The World.

"All there is left now is to resolve the police matter, and then begin libel proceedings. We sent a letter to the News Of The World two months ago, but have not received a reply, so we will now plan how to proceed next."

Another Irish jockey wrestling with officialdom is Timmy Murphy, who now seems likely to appeal against a seven-day suspension meted out by the Plumpton stewards on Monday. The ban would rule the jumps rider of the moment out of the King George VI Chase at Kempton, Chepstow's Welsh National and the Lexus Chase at Leopardstown.

It appears Murphy will argue that the punishment for throwing his whip at Semi Precious after the partnership was severed at Plumpton's fourth last fence was too severe. I haven't spoken to John Blake [Jockeys' Association chief executive] but as long as he agrees with me that the seven days was harsh then I plan to appeal," Murphy said.

"My intention was to go and catch Semi Precious but the horse ran off and I threw the whip more in frustration and not for any other reason. I've only spoken to my agent Chris Broad about it so far, but there must be a good chance that I'll lodge an appeal as this is a very important part of the season."

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