Standing at almost 100 pages, even after the dozen appendices are removed, and representing over five months' work, the report issued yesterday by the Jockey Club and British Horseracing Board's Security Review Group into issues of integrity affecting the turf is a comprehensive piece of research and recommendation. Whether its findings will punch their weight with the bad boys that lurk around racing is another matter.
The report is the riposte by the racing authorities to allegations made last year on television in Kenyon Confronts' "They Stop Horses Don't They?" and in Panorama's "The Corruption of Racing" of widespread skulduggery within racing and a response to unsavoury revelations in court and in the autobiography of the former jockey Graham Bradley.
Stung into action, racing's rulers commissioned a review headed by the former senior policeman Ben Gunn, who yesterday went so far as to thank the Panorama team for "doing racing a service" in provoking the investigation. The BBC's cameras were on hand to record the outcome of their promptings.
Panorama had alleged that racing was "institutionally corrupt" and in refuting that suggestion the review team went to great lengths, drawing parallels with the definition by Lord Justice MacPherson in the Stephen Lawrence Inquiry which ruled that the Metropolitan Police was guilty of "institutional racism" in that being aware racist activity was taking place insufficient action was taken to address it.
The review, unsurprisingly, finds racing's rulers not guilty on the "institutional" charge. "The nub of the allegation is whether sufficient urgency and determination has been displayed by the Jockey Club in exercising its powers as the regulator of racing," the report says. "The Security Review Group is satisfied that where evidence was available to take action against those accused of corrupt activities, it was done."
It will certainly be hard to level such an accusation after the review's thorough examination of the issues and its list of 36 recommendations. Chief among these is that those licensed by the Jockey Club, such as owners and trainers, would have to declare details of accounts held with bookmakers and betting exchanges as a condition of obtaining a licence. The co-operation of trainers and a willingness by bookmakers to disclose client information is essential to the success of such a scheme, but as Gunn put it: "The integrity of racing is a matter for everyone, including those in the betting industry."
The training fraternity are also the focus of the recommendation that says they may be liable when a jockey is found in breach of the rules in relation to non-triers, thus closing a loophole that allowed trainers to let riders carry the can.
Some of the recommendations shine a light on the state of the Jockey Club's investigative capabilities, with one suggesting development of a computerised database for the Security Department. "The system in place consists of 17,500 paper files, none of which are searchable other than by surname," the report says. "Nicknames, addresses, telephone and car numbers are retrievable only by a physical search, which is practically impossible."
Similarly, the recommendation that the appointment of the next Director of Security "should involve an open advertisement, followed by a transparent selection process" gives some indication of how past incumbents of that besmirched post got their jobs.
An expanded investigation team is recommended and for anyone considering applying for a post the Jockey Club's potential wage bill is of interest: £40,000 for a Chief Investigator in the field or for Head of Intelligence at the grandly titled Central Intelligence Cell at Jockey Club headquarters; £27,000 for a betting analyst; £20,000 for an intelligence inputter/typist to get that database underway.
The report will next go before the Jockey Club and BHB to consider its implementation. "The message is that if you are involved in corrupt activity the chances of you being caught will be high," Gunn said. "We don't want the report on a shelf, gathering dust."
THE SECURITY REVIEW GROUP'S KEY RECOMMENDATIONS
* All those licensed by the Jockey Club who hold an account with a bookmaker or betting exchange to register that as a condition of a licence.
* Jockey Club to review the position of a trainer when the jockey is found in breach of rules in relation to non-triers; consideration of a "strict liability" offence and more severe penalties, including suspension in serious cases.
* Security Department to liaise with betting exchanges to combat current threats and identify emerging risks.
* An additional post of Head of Intelligence to be created to co-ordinate the whole intelligence function.Reuse content