News 5th May 2015

BHA Clears Jockey McGrath of Corruption Charges

Last week the Disciplinary Panel of the British Horceracing Authority (BHA) cleared licensed jockey Richie McGrath and registered professional Mark Aspey, a professional gambler and horse-owner, of conspiring to commit corrupt or fraudulent practices in relation to racing. McGrath, along with six others, was charged in September last year with breaching Rule (A) 41.2 of the BHA’s Rules of Racing by conspiring to commit a corrupt or fraudulent practice, in this instance using inside information about the likely performance of horses for betting purposes. The charge related to 57 races during a three-year period between October 2009 and July 2012.

The allegation against McGrath and Aspey of passing inside information was not proved and therefore dismissed. However the Disciplinary Panel did find that the jockey had performed a ‘schooling run’ by using the racecourse as a training ground. McGrath was therefore found to be in breach of the general requirement for a horse to be run on its merits and obtain the best possible placing (Rule (B) 58). The Panel however described this as ‘a breach of the least serious kind’ and an isolated incident which was not part of any larger conspiracy to ride to lose.

In a statement by the Professional Jockeys Association (PJA), Chief Executive Paul Struthers said “We are delighted that Richie McGrath has been found not guilty of all the charges he faced, with a minor exception for which there should hopefully be no penalty”. Struthers thanked the Disciplinary Panel for their “diligence and fair handling of the case”, but said that the PJA had “concerns about the BHA’s handling of the case”, continuing that the PJA would “raise those concerns directly and privately with the BHA”. Nigel Payne, chairman of the PJA, commented that he was ‘absolutely delighted with the recent decision to correctly clear Richie of the preposterous charges that were levelled against him’, adding that the PJA’s work had prevented a ‘massive injustice’ from occurring.

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