Thursday, March 31, 2016

The scales of justice

I got through my Sunday Forum shift very well on Sunday, much to my relief.  I'm on the road back to health, and I only struggled with my voice at the point when I couldn't stop laughing as Matt was putting forward so many theories and counter-theories that he seemed to be confusing himself, never mind the rest of us.  Anyway, it was a very enjoyable show (for the panellists, if not the viewers, as is usually the case with these 'talking heads' productions).  Probably the only topic with which I struggled was the final one we discussed, the BHA's recent review of its disciplinary procedures.  I just didn't really know what to say.  Did you read about that in the Racing Post?  If so, you're probably as confused as I am.

I haven't read the review so am not really in a position to comment.  And maybe I should just assume that the review makes sense, and that it is just the Post's summary which is so confusing.  What most baffled me was that we were told that the BHA had apologised to Kate Walton and Jim Boyle for messing them about in the seemingly never-ending investigations in which they were embroiled.  How does that work?  How was Jim Boyle cleared?  When did that happen?  I am sure that I remember him serving a two-month suspension.  How can you both exonerate someone and suspend them?  Or was he retrospectively exonerated after having served his suspension?  If that's the case, the exoneration (and subsequent apology) would have been fairly meagre consolation.

And, if Kate Walton, why not Richie McGrath?  And Brendan Powell?  All the time, money and stress which Brendan went through when charged and then found not guilty of not training some of the horses which he trains was brought to mind during Cheltenham when the Channel Four team nearly exploded with excitement after the Triumph Hurdle, joining in a happy chorus of, "Oh, isn't this wonderful?  Aidan doesn't actually train this horse!".  And then we cut to an interview with Aidan, who confirmed that, prior to that day, he hadn't seen the horse since last autumn, and that Joseph trains him, but just doesn't have a license.  After all that jollity, an apology might seem to be the very least that Brendan could expect.

I suppose that probably just ought to read the review, not least because I'll be interested to see what it has to say about the Mahmood al Zarooni case, which isn't mentioned in the Post's summary.  While the BHA generally errs of the side of ponderousness in handling these things, never letting them last merely months when years is an option, this one went to the other extreme.  Probably the biggest doping case in British racing history, it was wrapped up in a few days.  (I am aware that the BHA had a confession, which usually is not the case, but I've watched enough Inspector Morse episodes to know that a confession does not generally speed things up significantly).  Anyway, it will be interesting to read the review, and find out whether the standard for speed which that enquiry set is to be regarded as the benchmark, or whether in retrospect such briskness is seen as maybe just a touch perfunctory.

1 comment:

David Winter said...

John, it never ceases to surprise me with the shananagins of the BHA. Every trainer must live in fear of being " brought to justice" over some supposed infringement amongst the plethora of possibilities available in running a racing stable. Whether it be welfare, the administering of a substance too soon before a race or running a beast in such a way as to undermine its chances. It is understood and is a requirement that we have a determining body at the head of professions but it is also imperative that it carries out its mandate expediously.
I don't think racing is any different from other industry though. All governing bodies are often populated with individuals that are not cognisant with the ways the said profession works and are often given seats on a bugger's turn basis after a career elsewhere . The anguish that they inflict on their members on the occasions when they are reprimanded/ suspended or both, on thin and suspect grounds, seem unimportant.
Surely, in the cause of natural justice is not unreasonable to expect in any walk of life ( definitely when under suspension) that you are given a reasonably quick hearing. Unfortunately that often doesn't happen and the consequences can be devastating for those in conflict.
I note, with interest that the Al Zarooni case WAS handled expeditiously, Odd that.
Even the scales of justice that sit over the Old Bailey aren't balanced, so what chance for the man on the Clapham omnibus.