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Show jumpers Peter and Keith Doyle have won a public apology — and more than £20,000 in libel damages — over claims that a “banned substance” was used to treat one of their horses.

The Hampshire-based father and son sued fellow rider Nick Skelton over allegations he made in his autobiography, Only Falls and Horses, in 2001.

The Doyles’ solicitor, Ruth Collard, said that, in 1991, Keith Doyle trained with Nick Skelton and the book described how, after a show jumping event in Munich, a horse of Nick Skelton’s tested positive for a banned substance.

She told London’s High Court: “This led to Mr Skelton being fined and having a two-month ban from competing imposed. In the book, Nick Skelton suggested the positive test might have resulted from contamination from one of Keith Doyle’s horses.”

Nick Skelton has now offered “sincere apologies” for publishing the allegations and for the distress, embarrassment and damage to reputation suffered by the Doyles.

Skelton has agreed to pay damages and legal costs. Ruth Collard told Mr Justice Tugendhat that the Doyles were “content to let the matter rest”.

David Sherborne, acting for Nick Skelton, said that he had not intended to suggest that the Doyles lied to him. As well as offering “sincere apologies”, he agreed never to repeat the allegations.

Peter Doyle says: “The matter is now closed and I’m absolutely delighted it’s come to an end.”

  • Read the full story in today’s issue of Horse & Hound (11 March)