Robbie Dunne has been banned from racing for 18 months with three suspended
Dunne was found guilty of bullying and harassing his fellow jockey Bryony Frost
His guilty verdict was confirmed following a six-day BHA disciplinary hearing
The 36-year-old jockey’s suspension could see him miss as many as 450 rides
As a result, Dunne could now lose out on almost £80,000 in riding fees alone
Professional Jockeys Association 'appalled' at claim racing culture is 'rancid'
Robbie Dunne has been banned from racing for 18 months — with three suspended — after being found guilty of a sustained campaign of bullying and harassment against fellow jockey Bryony Frost.
Following a six-day British Horseracing Authority disciplinary hearing, an independent panel on Thursday found Dunne in breach of the four most serious charges of conduct prejudicial to the integrity, proper conduct and good reputation of racing.ADVERTISEMENTi-amphtml-sizer">
The 36-year-old jockey’s suspension, which is effective immediately, could see him miss as many as 450 rides and lose out on almost £80,000 in riding fees alone.i-amphtml-sizer">
Brian Barker, the panel’s chair, said Dunne was guilty of ‘distasteful targeting to deliberate harassment, both on and off the course, and occasional cases of dangerous bullying’.i-amphtml-sizer">
He also expressed ‘real concern’ over a ‘deep-rooted and coercive’ weighing-room culture ‘not conducive to the good health and the development of modern-day race-riding’.template type="amp-mustache"">>/amp-minute-media-player">>
The BHA said the ‘ground-breaking’ case, after Frost complained about Dunne’s conduct last year, should act as a ‘catalyst for further change’.
BHA chief executive Julie Harrington admitted: ‘This is potentially a seminal moment for the sport. Conduct of this nature simply cannot be tolerated in any environment.’
- amp-img src="https://i.dailymail.co.uk/1s/2021/12/09/08/51535073-0-image-m-15_1639036858414.jpg" width="85px" height="85px" i-amphtml-layout="fixed"">
>LAWRENCE BOOTH: England's rabble already look broken and it's only the second day... Joe Root's men are in crisis as the Brisbane bungle goes on
- amp-img src="https://i.dailymail.co.uk/1s/2021/12/08/00/51396771-0-image-m-76_1638923798788.jpg" width="85px" height="85px" i-amphtml-layout="fixed"">
>Channel 4 get the green light from Sky Sports to make Lewis Hamilton's eagerly-anticipated world title showdown with Max Verstappen FREE-TO-AIR - mirroring deals struck for England's Cricket World Cup win and Emma Raducanu's US Open triumph
- amp-img src="https://i.dailymail.co.uk/1s/2021/12/09/09/51537803-0-image-m-4_1639041785712.jpg" width="85px" height="85px" i-amphtml-layout="fixed"">
>UEFA could allow Tottenham to fulfil their Europa Conference League clash with Rennes in the New Year due to both clubs' jam-packed schedules, after their game was finally postponed following Covid outbreak at Spurs
Jockey's Association 'appalled' by claim of 'rancid' culture in racing
British horse racing has been split by the issues raised during the disciplinary hearing into Robbie Dunne's treatment of Bryony Frost.
The British Horse Racing Authority's disciplinary panel raised grave concerns over the culture within the weighing room of National Hunt racing, and concluded that was the backdrop to the specific charges brought against Dunne.
During evidence, the BHA's legal counsel, described that culture, in which Frost was bullied and threatened and without support, as 'rancid'.
But within hours of the disciplinary panel finding in Frost's favour, the Professional Jockey's Association issued a stinging rebuke to that view.
'The PJA does not accept the Disciplinary Panel's findings in relation to the culture within and collective behaviour of the jump jockeys weighing room,' it said.
'It is a grossly inaccurate and wholly unfair representation of the weighing-room and a conclusion we believe is at odds with the evidence presented.
It added: 'The PJA and its members are appalled by the BHA's characterisation of the weighing room culture as 'rancid', made via their advocate and therefore presumably under instruction. This and the BHA's conduct throughout this process is incredibly damaging.'
The PJA represents both Frost and Dunne.
Following five days of much harrowing evidence, and a hearing that found unequivocally for Frost, the PJA reluctantly acknowledged: 'Bryony felt bullied' and added that 'we do not doubt the isolation she has felt', before adding Dunne's conduct fell 'well short of the standard the PJA expects'.
The PJA went on to cast doubt on the process. It described the investigation into the allegations of threats, bullying and abuse as 'woefully inadequate'.
'[It] lacked the necessary independence and allowed outside interference,' the statement added... We were aware of significant inconsistencies in the evidence.'
The association accused the BHA of doing nothing 'for years' to improve facilities at race courses so male and female riders could have separate facilities.
The PJA said 'change is needed', starting with the creation of appropriate facilities, and an ongoing restructure of its own organisation, which will create new 'team leaders in the weighing room'.
'It is also vital that we develop a more formal relationship between Jockey Coaches and senior jockeys to ensure concerns or issues about an individual's riding are dealt with in a timely but professional manner,' the statement added.
However, the Professional Jockeys Association (PJA) hit back on Thursday night saying the panel’s findings regarding the weighing room were ‘grossly inaccurate and wholly unfair’ and said the BHA’s description of it as ‘rancid’ was ‘incredibly damaging’.ADVERTISEMENTi-amphtml-sizer">
Dunne, who has seven days to appeal, was present in the hearing room in London and raised his eyebrows when told of the length of his suspension, before bowing his head.
Barker told Dunne: ‘A professional athlete should behave in a professional way. This was a deliberate targeting of a colleague whose vulnerabilities you exploited. Your behaviour was not appropriate in an equal opportunities sport and would not be tolerated in any other walk of life or work place.’
The three-person panel found Frost, who rode a winner at Warwick just three minutes before the verdict was given, had been ‘truthful, careful and compelling’ when giving evidence.
Barker said that by complaining to the BHA, the 26-year-old had ‘broken the code, knowing that isolation and rejection by some was inevitable’.
In a statement after the verdict, Frost said: ‘I would like to thank every individual, including the racing public, that has supported me not only during the last couple of weeks but throughout.’
When delivering the guilty verdict, Barker said: ‘We are unable to accept Mr Dunne’s sweep of denials, criticisms and his reasoning.’
One of the most serious allegations, and the one which led to Frost making a complaint, was that Dunne threatened to put his rival jockey ‘through a wing’ — the side of a fence — after a race at Southwell on September 3 last year in which his horse was killed.
Dunne said in the hearing that this comment was a ‘figure of speech’ but the panel ruled: ‘We find that words used on September 3 were as a promise to cause real harm that were over and above the usual jockey mantra of “murdering”.’ADVERTISEMENTi-amphtml-sizer">
On other occasions, it was claimed Dunne used misogynistic language towards Frost, including caller her a ‘f****** whore’, a ‘f****** slag’ and a ‘dangerous c***’. Frost also accused Dunne of ‘opening his towel up and shaking himself’ in front of her in the men’s changing room.
Reacting to the verdict on Thursday night, BHA chief Harrington called for more whistleblowers to come forward, saying: ‘I would like to praise Bryony Frost for having the courage and raising her concerns. Sport needs brave people such as her if change is ever going to be made.
‘We believe this is an important moment for our entire industry. Anyone who has been on the receiving end of poor conduct should make us aware.’
However, the PJA claimed Dunne was not subjected to a ‘remotely fair process’ and in a statement said: ‘Bryony felt bullied, it certainly took courage to go through the process she has and we do not doubt the isolation she has felt.
‘All that said, the PJA does not accept the panel’s findings in relation to the culture within and collective behaviour of the jump jockeys weighing room. It is a grossly inaccurate and wholly unfair representation and a conclusion we believe is at odds with the evidence presented.’ADVERTISEMENTi-amphtml-sizer">
The PJA also released a statement from a group of anonymous female jockeys who said the BHA have ‘failed’ them and used the ‘rest of the weighing room as scapegoats to conceal the fact they have let female riders down’.
British Horseracing Authority ready to push for major cultural change
The British Horseracing Authority has its work cut out to change the culture of the sport following the conclusion on the Bryony Frost case.
Even as the BHA was giving a press conference to welcome the findings of an independent disciplinary panel and discuss next steps, the Professional Jockeys Association was issuing a statement questioning the process and the idea that National Hunt racing has a problem.
‘This case has been a ground-breaking one for British racing, the first of its kind, and it is important that it acts as a catalyst for further change within the industry,’ the BHA said in a statement.
The authority tried to tread a fine line, emphasising the need for fundamental changes, while at pains to point out that there are lots of good people in the country’s weighing rooms and on its race courses.
‘We understand that, for the vast majority of those who work in the sport – and in particular in the jockeys’ weighing room – it is a positive, supportive, welcoming place. We recognise the pressures on those involved in the sport, and that temperatures will at times be raised.
‘However, there is a line as to what is acceptable. It is essential that when something does go wrong that people feel that they can call out bad behaviour, and not be made to suffer in silence. The independent Judicial Panel Chair voiced concerns regarding these issues in his judgement. We call on everyone in the industry to recognise this. ‘.
The BHA said work was well under way to change behaviour in racing, with a new Code of Conduct due in the New Year, the use of ‘jockey coaches’ who work with young riders, the development of new facilities to allow women and men to separate at courses and additional training and development of all racing staff.
The BHA has also said it will review its disciplinary process in light of this case.
Pressed on the PJA’s reaction to the outcome of the disciplinary hearing, Julie Harrington, chief executive of the British Horseracing Authority, said: ‘I think it is really important it is greeted with a spirit of openness and this is not about pitting one part of the sport against another, this is about us trying to do the right thing for our sport in the long term to make sure we keep pace with what is acceptable and not acceptable in society as a while.’
Source : https://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/sportsnews/article-10292173/amp/Robbie-Dunne-guilty-harassing-bullying-female-rider-Bryony-Frost.html2294