An investigation into allegations made by jockey Bryony Frost of bullying and harassment against weighing room colleague Robbie Dunne must go ahead despite a newspaper leak, according to the Racing Debate panel.
A report in the Sunday Times earlier this month claimed Dunne was to be charged by the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) with “conduct prejudicial to the integrity or good reputation” of racing, with Frost detailing complaints about Dunne’s behaviour over several years.
The BHA is yet to publish the full findings of the case, which remains ongoing, but the Professional Jockeys Association (PJA) wants the matter closed, arguing that a “fair hearing is impossible” following the media leak.
In a statement earlier this week, the PJA said: “The information leaked is the charge letter and accompanying documentation that should only have been available to the BHA, Robbie Dunne and his legal advisors.
“The matter cannot now be permitted to proceed and we call upon the BHA to bring this matter to an end, however unsatisfactory that is.”
Asked if he agrees with the PJA’s view, journalist Paul Hayward said: “I understand it but I don’t agree with it. This isn’t a trial by jury, it’s an investigation so there is no question of contempt of court.
“The leak was very unfortunate for the BHA because you don’t want these allegations played out in public before they’ve been heard by a disciplinary panel and there’s a slight risk that, if Dunne were to be found guilty, the sentencing might be influenced by the debate that’s been had over the last couple of weeks.
“On balance, though, this isn’t a legal case and it hasn’t been compromised to the point where you’d had to call the whole thing off.
“The anomaly here is that Bryony Frost is presumably a member of the PJA, in which case they need to protect her position as well and she would be very much cut adrift if the case was abandoned.”
Joining Hayward on the Racing Debate, journalist Greg Wood added: “Everything that’s happened, including the sheer length of time it’s taken to get to this point and the subsequent leaks, has certainly made a fair hearing more difficult but not impossible.
“I certainly don’t think that the BHA is in anyway likely to heed this call to drop the proceedings.
“It’s got to go ahead, however unsatisfactory it might be, because this is ultimately a serious allegation about bullying and intimidation in the workplace.
“The weighing room has, up until now, very much regulated itself and that’s at the heart of this issue. It is not the sort of thing that would be allowed in most work places.
“Most people who felt they had been bullied or intimidated at work, or if there was an accusation against them, would expect the matter to be dealt with quickly. Internalising the issue just locks the problem away.”