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Sport: Horseracing

Volume 698: debated on Monday 21 January 2008

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What is the total cost to the taxpayer of the recent horserace-fixing prosecution; what is the breakdown of those costs; and why the main prosecution expert witness was someone whose evidence was considered by the trial judge to have very little value. [HL1115]

Three cases emanated from the City of London Police’s investigation into allegations of horserace fixing. The first was R v Rodgers & others. This case was concluded on 7 December 2007, when the judge directed the jury to acquit the six defendants in the case. The prosecution offered no evidence in respect of the two other trials.

The break-down of the prosecution costs in respect of these three cases is as follows:

prosecution counsels' costs (three counsel were briefed): £701,480.37

witness expenses: £14,527.04

ancillary costs, including electronic presentation of evidence: £234,815.91

Total: £950,823.32.

The cost to the taxpayer would also include Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) staff costs; police costs; defence costs (which are to be paid out of central funds); and court costs. Staff costs are attributable to the operation of the CPS as a whole and cannot be assessed on an individual case basis. I am unable to comment on police, defence and court costs as these figures are not kept by the CPS.

On 7 December 2007, the judge in the R v Rodgers & others case delivered a detailed ruling. In it, he specifically commented that the expert witness's statements were clearly expressed in terms that suggested that he did have appropriate expertise in UK racing rules and practices and that, in 13 out of the 27 suspect races (which formed the basis of the prosecution's case), he had concluded that there was a prima facie case that the jockey in question was in breach of the relevant UK racing rule. The judge further commented that, when giving his evidence in chief, the expert witness said nothing to call into question his expertise in UK racing, either by reference to the rules or the practices of UK racing, and that “remarkably, it was only as a result of and during (the expert's) cross-examination that the very significant limitations and shortcomings in the evidence that he was really able to give first became apparent”. In particular, the judge said that some of the witness's responses during cross-examination were tantamount to the witness disqualifying himself from giving expert evidence in relation to the suspect races. The judge, therefore, concluded that the probative value of the expert's evidence, following extensive cross-examination, was so limited that very little, if any, weight or value could be attached to it. The judge found that in these circumstances he had to direct the jury to acquit the defendants.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether the recent horserace-fixing prosecution will have a detrimental effect on the future of horse breeding and horseracing in the United Kingdom; and where the responsibility for management of the prosecution case lies. [HL1116]

The Government believe that horse breeding and horseracing have a secure future in the United Kingdom, particularly in the light of developments such as the establishment of the British Horseracing Authority. Responsibility for the management of the prosecution of the recent case of R v Rodgers & others lies with the Crown Prosecution Service.