‘We were not consulted for Sheikh’s report’ says Defra [H&H VIP]

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  • Defra’s Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD) has rejected some conclusions in the recent report Sheikh Mohammed commissioned to examine his disgraced equine operations.

    The VMD has revealed to H&H it was not invited to contribute to the five-month investigation.

    Lord Stevens’ intelligence services company, Quest, was commissioned by Sheikh Mohammed.

    It followed last summer’s drugs raid of his Moorley Farm East, Newmarket, by the VMD, and of his private plane by border officials, plus a steroids scandal that rocked his racing operation, Godolphin and British racing.

    Quest concluded the illegally imported drugs seized in these raids resulted from internal management failings and the differing drugs licensing requirements in the many countries where Sheikh Mohammed has equine interests. It thus cleared Sheikh Mohammed of any involvement.

    A summary published last month lists Defra among several bodies that “accepted” the seized drugs were linked to endurance, not thoroughbred racing. It also stressed a vet involved said the Moorley drugs were not intended for use in the UK.

    Defra robustly rejects that scenario and told H&H: “We do not accept that the veterinary medicines were not for use in the UK. The products were illegally imported and as a result they were seized.

    “We were not asked for our input into Lord Stevens’ report. We take the illegal import, marketing, sale and administration of veterinary medicines very seriously, and robustly pursue such cases in accordance with our enforcement strategy.”

    Quest’s report reveals the Moorley drugs came from Spain via Dubai. More than 120 items were seized in what was the VMD’s sole raid on a British stable throughout 2013.

    Jaume Punti Dachs, the European endurance champion who trains for Sheikh Mohammed, took responsibility.

    Defra declined to comment on Dachs’ earlier statement that he visited Newmarket Equine Hospital the next day and replaced the entire haul.

    Defra is “not in a position” to divulge what further action was taken, but it seems prosecution through the courts is unlikely.

    Yet the VMD frequently prosecutes similar offences. In December, a woman was fined £2,000 for possessing 19 bottles of an unauthorised livestock antibiotic.

    Further mystery surrounds last week’s resignation of three unnamed vets from Godolphin, whose spokesman declined to outline how its veterinary services would be managed at its Newmarket yards in future.

    Last month, British Equine Veterinary Association vice-president Keith Chandler expressed concern the confiscated drugs would have been administered by “non-vets” — an offence under the Veterinary Surgeons Act.

    He thought Quest’s report understated the seriousness of some drugs with “no UK or EU licensed equivalent, and [which] require high degrees of technical skill and diagnostic ability to be used safely”.

    In September, Princess Haya, Sheikh Mohammed’s wife and FEI president, told managers of their global equine interests that all staff, notably “vets and farriers”, must be correctly registered in each country they work in. She gave no explanation why this reminder was needed.