Matthew Lohn, senior partner at Fieldfisher, has been accused of bias after carrying out advisory work for the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) while serving as chair of its independent disciplinary panel.
As reported by legal site RollOnFriday today (20 May), while Lohn turned down the opportunity to pitch for substantial work involving the redraft of the rules of horseracing, noting conflicts, the Fieldfisher regulatory expert has advised on a range non-disciplinary work for the BHA that he believed to be non-conflicting and trivial. He was initially approached about advisory work for the BHA in October 2013 and offered occasional advice to the body over the next two years.
Horse trainer Jim Best, who was handed a four-year ban earlier this year by a panel chaired by Lohn, is appealing the decision alleging Lohn’s work for the BHA outside of the disciplinary procedural system gives rise to a possible bias.
The panel found Best guilty in March of ordering jockey Paul John to stop two horses from running on their merits at Plumpton and Towcester in 2015. Best was found to be a ‘dishonest individual who corrupted a young man’ and was found guilty of all charges, including acting in a manner prejudicial to the integrity, proper conduct or good reputation of horseracing. West London legal outfit Stewart Moore solicitors is representing Best in the appeal.
Paul Gilligan, an Irish trainer recently banned for six months in a panel chaired by Lohn, is also appealing. Gilligan was banned for six months by the BHA in April for sending a horse to race at Uttoxeter who had previously competed at an unrecognised meeting in Ireland.
Fieldfisher refused to comment. The BHA said in a statement: ‘It is our intention to be fully open and transparent about the wider matters that have arisen during this case and which concern our handling of disciplinary cases and the structure and the composition of our disciplinary panels. We will issue a full statement once the case is closed.’