News 16th May 2016

BHA may have to quash rulings due to lawyer’s conflict of interest

The British Horseracing Authority (BHA) may have to quash a number of its disciplinary rulings, after it emerged that a lawyer who has been serving as the Head of disciplinary panels had carried out previous paid work for the BHA. On Friday, Irish trainer Paul Gilligan requested that the BHA’s decision to ban him for six months for breaching race entry rules be put on hold until after the BHA hears Jim Best’s appeal on 24 May against a four-year ban issued for ‘corrupt[ing] a young man to ensure horses were not run on their merits’.

The reason for Gilligan’s request was revealed in the press release relating to his request to stay proceedings until after the Best hearing. ‘One of Mr Best’s grounds of appeal, under para 14.2, is that the hearing that gave rise to the decision was substantially unfair and prejudicial to him in that the Chairman of the Disciplinary Panel, Mr Matthew Lohn, a Solicitor, acts, or has acted, professionally for the BHA’, it reads. ‘Mr Lohn was the Chairman of the Disciplinary Panel that heard Mr Gilligan’s case, and Mr Gilligan has raised the same para 14.2 ground in his notice of appeal’.

At around the time that Lohn was chosen to chair the hearing panel in the Best case, he turned down an approach from the BHA to submit a quote for a complete redraft of the rules of racing, reports The Guardian. The BHA said that it cannot comment on the case until after the Best hearing. Other rulings that could be affected are a three-year ban issued to racehorse owner Anthony Knott for use of inside information and a five-year ban issued to another trainer, Gerard Butler, for doping horses with steroids.

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