Dunne appeals 18-month ban

Robbie Dunne has submitted an appeal against his 18-month ban for bullying and harassing fellow jockey Bryony Frost, the BHA has confirmed.

Last month the disciplinary panel found Dunne, 36, guilty of four breaches of rule (J)19, in that he engaged in conduct prejudicial to horseracing in Britain by subjecting Frost to bullying with "deepening spitefulness" between February and September 2020.

Dunne was originally given seven days from the publication of the disciplinary panel's written reasons for his suspension to appeal, but an extra week was then granted following the release of the report on January 6.

In an update on Thursday, the BHA said: "The independent judicial panel has received an appeal from the representatives of Robbie Dunne in relation to the finding and penalty imposed on him by the disciplinary panel after its recent hearing.

"The independent judicial panel will now convene an appeal board for the hearing and liaise with representatives of all parties regarding a potential date for the hearing, which will be communicated in due course."

The extended deadline to lodge an appeal was due to expire at the end of Thursday but it now seems inevitable a hearing that originally featured five days of detailed evidence and cross-examination last December, and which dates from a complaint originally made by Frost in September 2020, will now play out over many more hours of testimony.

In particular the Dunne team's decision to appeal against not just the penalty but the findings of Brian Barker QC and his two panel colleagues means they have set themselves no small task, given the severity of the initial verdict.

The BHA's statement underlines it is not just the 18-month ban – three of which are suspended – but the merits of the panel's decision that are being challenged.

Both in giving short verbal reasons for the decision to find Dunne guilty of four counts of breaching rule (J)19, and in the later written verdict, the panel was of the opinion that Dunne had cleared the requirements laid down with ease.

The panel report concluded: "In this case we were not troubled by any borderline decision on either guilt or sanction. The threshold in rule (J)19 was plainly crossed and this case overwhelmingly called for a penalty of some potency."

The four breaches of rule (J)19 – behaviour the panel found to constitute "deliberate, unwarranted targeting of a colleague over a considerable time" – relate to one count encompassing the whole period of February 13 to September 3, 2020, as well as three specific incidences of bullying and harassing: Stratford on July 8, 2020, Uttoxeter on August 17, 2020 and Southwell on September 3, 2020.

That day at Southwell became a crucial element of the original hearing, with the defence team arguing Frost had caused the fatal fall of Dunne's mount and the BHA's counsel focusing on Dunne's promise to put Frost "through the wing" in an exchange in the weighing room afterwards.

It was also their recollections of Dunne's words to Frost at Southwell that senior jockeys Tom Scudamore and Nico de Boinville, as well as retired champion Richard Johnson, were asked to give in testimony.

The panel rejected the notion that Dunne's language was commonplace in a racing context and instead characterised his words and behaviour as "wholly inappropriate for a professional athlete in an equal opportunity sport and would not be tolerated in any other walk of life or workplace".

On the same day Frost made an unofficial complaint to a BHA race day assistant, action that was followed by official contact the following day between her father Jimmy Frost and the BHA head of regulation Andrew Howell.

Link - Written reasons published in Dunne ban