Robbie Dunne banned for 18 months in Bryony Frost bullying case

Three alleged violent and threatening behaviour breaches yet to be considered

Jockey Robbie Dunne has been found guilty on all four charges in the case taken against him by Bryony Frost and banned for 18 months with three suspended. Photograph: Tim Goode/PA Wire

Jockey Robbie Dunne has been found guilty on all four charges in the case taken against him by Bryony Frost and banned for 18 months with three suspended. Photograph: Tim Goode/PA Wire

 

Irish jockey Robbie Dunne has been given an 18-month ban, with three months suspended, after being found in breach on all four counts of conduct prejudicial to horseracing after the disciplinary panel of the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) ruled he had bullied and harassed fellow rider Bryony Frost.

Dunne was charged with seven breaches in total, four of conduct prejudicial to horseracing and three of violent and threatening behaviour, with all but one of those charges denied. The 36-year-old, who was not given a financial penalty, was told there were “a combination of factors” which meant his punishment was above the entry point.

An independent three-person panel, chaired by Brian Barker QC, found the four prejudicial conduct breaches to have been proven, while the latter three are yet to be considered.

The majority of the incidents in question took place in 2020, when Dunne was found by the panel to have threatened Frost by promising to “put her through a wing [of a fence]” and he was also accused of using misogynistic language such as “f****** whore”, “f****** slut” and “dangerous c***” towards her.

Barker said: “Our conclusion on the whole of the evidence is that a course of deliberate conduct over a significant period of time has been revealed.

“This has progressed from distasteful targeting to deliberate harassment on and off the course and onwards to occasional cases of dangerous bullying.

“We find that the words used on September 3rd were, as a promise, to cause real harm – over and above the usual jockey mantra of ‘murdering’.

“On the examination of Ms Frost’s evidence and demeanour we find her to be truthful, thoughtful and compelling.

“By taking her complaint to the authority she has broken the code [of the weighing room], knowing that her isolation – and rejection by some – was inevitable.”

He went on: “In acknowledging after the Southwell race Mr Dunne believed that Ms Frost was the cause of his mount’s death and that he had suffered a fall, we are unable to accept Mr Dunne’s sweep of denials, criticisms and his reasons.

“A man who in the view of one of his own witnesses was “a piss taker” and who regarded himself as one of the elders of the weighing room and someone who expected his view to be heeded.

“Behind the four elements set out in rule (J) 19 we find those proved.

“I’d like to make two further observations. The type of excessive language used towards Ms Frost was totally unacceptable, whatever the frustrations about her style and whatever the habits of the weighing room.

“Secondly, in reviewing the evidence given and their approach, by jockeys of repute, as well as by the valets – who probably find themselves in a difficult position – we have a real concern that what was referred to by Mr Weston as “the weighing-room culture” is deep-rooted and coercive and that in itself is not conducive to the development of modern-day race-riding.”

Barker added: “In our view she [Frost] has supported [her case] in a number of areas. The first is the published comments on the Virtual Grand National, the second is the apology at Bangor, the third is the video of the encounter in the pull-up area at Stratford combined with the independent evidence of the fence attendant.

“Also the acceptance of at least some offensive behaviour at Southwell which was followed by Ms Frost’s report to the BHA, and the evidence of Ms [Hannah] Welch [former amateur jockey], which we also found persuasive in admissible support.”

Addressing the leaked BHA report into the allegations and the suggestion that this may have prejudiced the hearing, Barker said: “It is an unfortunate fact that the preliminary process has been overshadowed by extraordinary and unprecedented leaks, either one leak or two leaks, of confidential information.

“In relation to that, the independent enquiry continues. The fact of that leak has led to both distress and unhelpful speculation.

“Fortunately in recent days most of those subsidiary matters have fallen away and as a result we now view that there has been a thorough public investigation and dissection of the core areas, which, looked at in totality, will be of great concern to many who love, support and enjoy the sport.”

Giving her reaction, Frost said in a statement she would “take a few days” for reflection before commenting further.

“I would like to thank every individual including the racing public that has supported me not only during the last couple of weeks but throughout,” she said.

“I wish now to take a few days to reflect on the outcome before I make any further comment. I ask the media to please give me and the people closest to me a few days of privacy. I need to focus on my upcoming rides over the weekend. Thank you.”