Irish jockey Robbie Dunne’s legal team have described an investigation into claims he bullied and harassed a female jockey as “flawed”.
he Sunday Times newspaper reported that Dunne has been charged by the British Horseracing Authority with “conduct prejudicial to the integrity or good reputation” of racing after an investigation into allegations of bullying and harassment.
According to the newspaper, the charges were introduced after a report of over 120 pages by the BHA’s integrity team highlighted allegations made by 26-year-old jockey Bryony Frost about 42-year-old Dunne’s behaviour for several years.
Frost made an official complaint to the BHA that fellow weighing room colleague, Dunne, had bullied and harassed her in her place of work.
Frost had complained there had been issues since before 2017, when she was still an amateur jockey.
Frost said as she became more established, she was more confident to speak out and told Dunne his behaviour was unacceptable.
She claimed Dunne had stated to her that if she was to ever “f***ing murder (cut across in a race) me like that again, I’ll murder you.”
This incident, she claimed, had taken place during a July 8 race when Frost finished second on Wisecracker at Stratford, while Dunne finished sixth on Cillian’s Well.
Frost said she had not understood why Dunne had made the statement and she’d felt “very shaken” and questioned her riding after the alleged comments.
Dunne denied the allegations and stated if he’d said anything, it would have been to point out his feelings her riding had been dangerous.
Frost then alleged that in September, last year, at the ARC Racing Club Handicap Chase, when she finished second on Wisecracker and Dunne fell four fences from the finish on Cillan’s Well, another incident occurred.
Frost claimed when she was in the weighing room an hour after the race, Dunne had told her he’d put her through a wing – the rail marking at the edge of the course.
The female jockey alleged he then went on to say she had cut across everyone and that the next time they rode against each other, he would “hurt” her.
She made a complaint, stating she’d become very worried for her safety.
Due to the fall, Cillian’s Well was euthanised. And according to the report, after speaking to Dunne, the horse’s trainer, John Flint, believed Frost’s carelessness had caused the fall. However, no official evidence was found this was the case.
Dunne later claimed he received a threatening phone call with the caller hinting at the problems with Frost. He stated the caller threatened they would break his legs. Dunne reported this to the Professional Jockeys Association.
A legal representative for Dunne told the Irish Independent the team had “expected” all evidence to be heard, including support for the accused jockey from “some of the biggest names in sport” and for a “fair and proper hearing…”
The legal representative added that they believed the Sunday Times article had caused “serious damage… in terms of his reputation…” and in terms of “prejudice” to the “process”.
The legal team said it felt the BHA had “completely lost control of this case.” The investigation papers had been meant to be “strictly confidential”, yet were leaked.
It added: “Trial by media is always unfair, and a fair trial before a Panel after trial by media is impossible.
Dunne’s lawyer said he would not comment on the specific issues, but claimed that “the biggest scandal for racing” was that a flawed investigation had been carried out.
A BHA spokesperson said: “The Sunday Times article refers to leaked documents which are related to an ongoing investigation. In the interests of procedural fairness the BHA does not comment on the details of ongoing investigations.
“This case is close to reaching its conclusion, with directions hearings scheduled for the near future.
“It is an important case and one that the BHA is taking very seriously. Cases such as this may be complex and involve significant legal representation.”
Regarding the comments from Mr Dunne’s team, the BHA said: “In any case of this nature, documentation is shared in confidence with a number of relevant parties. The source of the documentation is not yet known in this case, but this will form part of the BHA’s investigatory
work around this case. In the meantime it is unhelpful to speculate on the source via the media.”