The Jockey Club has dropped its inquiry into whether Kieren Fallon and John Egan tarnished the integrity and good reputation of horseracing in Great Britain” when dealing with some undercover reporters from News of the World.
The inquiry by the Jockey Clubs Disciplinary Panel was launched earlier in the year after the Sunday tabloid published a series of highly damaging articles where it alleged that Fallon and Egan were involved in race-fixing.
Although he refused payment for tips, Fallon was allegedly lured into telling the News of the World journalists that odds-on favourite Rye would beat his mount, Ballinger Ridge, at a race at Lingfield Park. Ballinger Ridge later lost to Rye on the line after having pulled as much as 10 lengths clear of the rest of the field earlier in the race. Fallon admitted meeting the reporters but vehemently denied any wrongdoing.
When the articles were published in March, it appeared that Fallon and Egan could face a charge of bringing racing into disrepute. There can be no argument that the articles in question, and the accompanying media coverage in general, damaged the reputation of British racing, says Jockey Club spokesman John Maxse. After reviewing the dossier initially handed over by the News of the World, it was considered that there was evidence to warrant holding an [inquiry] which would seek to establish whether or not Kieren Fallon and John Egan, through their dealings with the reporters, were culpable for the ensuing negative coverage racing received.
Since then, however, the News of the World has submitted additional information to the Jockey Club and after examining the material in total and having taken advice from our legal team, we no longer consider that there is sufficient evidence to merit a disciplinary hearing, says Maxse.
Speculation is rife that the Jockey Clubs decision may have been influenced by the revelation that Fallons solicitor, Christopher Stewart-Moore, was looking at publishing the transcripts of the News of the World tapes to clear the jockeys name. Stewart-Moore announced yesterday that he will not release the transcripts of the tape recordings now that the Jockey Club hearing has been dropped.
The Jockey Club has also informed the City of London Police of their decision. The force is currently conducting an investigation into racing and an alleged conspiracy to defraud, which may have taken place earlier in the year. The police are still pursuing their investigation which, according to Maxse, is much broader in scope than the matters which were to form the basis of the Jockey Club enquiry into Kieren Fallon and John Egans conduct with the News of the World undercover reporters.
Fallon, who was arrested as part of the police investigation last September, will have to answer bail next April. Meanwhile, he has instructed his solicitors to get a retraction from the News of the World.