The British Horseracing Authority's (BHA) disciplinary hearing into allegations jockey Robbie Dunne bullied and harassed Bryony Frost has been adjourned, with a final decision expected by noon on Thursday.
Dunne denies all but one of the seven charges brought against him after allegations from fellow rider Frost, although he denies the language used in the admitted breach, and has been present in High Holborn for five days as the hearing took place in front of a three-person panel.
The majority of the incidents in question took place in 2020, when Dunne is alleged to have threatened Frost by promising to “put her through a wing” and is also accused of using misogynistic language such as “f****** whore”, “f****** slut” and “dangerous c***” towards her.
Roderick Moore, representing Dunne, told the panel he had issues with Frost's credibility after the allegations made about Dunne's misogynistic behaviour were not echoed unanimously by other female riders.
"I readily accept that Ms Frost was upset at times during her evidence to you last week, that was obvious," he said.
“The panel needs to take considerable care when assessing her testimony and the weight that can be placed upon it, the fact that she was visibly upset does not mean that where she leads, the panel should necessarily follow.
“Ms Frost made a number of gender-based allegations. Those allegations were not supported in any meaningful sense by the six female jockeys who were interviewed by the BHA investigator.”
Moore also challenged the idea that Frost had been afraid of Dunne, telling the panel: "It's hard to reconcile her contended fear for Mr Dunne when she spends as much time as she does in the male area of the weighing room.
“Her retort to me was that she is in the male weighing room because she gets more rides than they [other female riders] do, and that one follows from the other.
"Lucy Gardner helped you with this yesterday, where she said there is no need for female riders who don't want to go into the male area to do so."
The panel also heard that Moore felt it would be unfair to judge Dunne independently to what is generally deemed acceptable in the weighing room at present.
“The way the weighing room is should not come as big news to anyone, there are BHA officials coming in and out all of the time,” he said.
“What would be grossly unfair is to make a judgment of Mr Dunne against a scenario that isn’t the real one.
“If something needs to change, that’s for the future, that’s a policy matter, a political matter.”
Louis Weston, representing the BHA, took issue with the acceptance of a hostile weighing-room culture and highlighted Moore's perceived attempts to prove that Frost was unduly sensitive to this environment.
“To point to her just being intolerant of nice Mr Dunne’s behaviour, that is a hopeless case and a very unfortunate one to put across. It isn’t acceptable,” he said.
“If what is being said, when you come to determine this case, there is a weighing-room culture that allows jockeys to threaten serious injury to another or their horse, to call another a whore, a slut and a slag, then that culture is one that is sour, rancid and one that we say should be thrown out and discarded. Its time, if ever it had its time, has gone.
“It is breathtaking, properly breathtaking, to hear Mr Dunne’s friends speak of their tolerance of that conduct.
“It’s amazing that anyone in this sport is saying that it’s okay. You cannot have a sport that is open to men and women if it is tolerated that they get called a whore at work. It is so far beyond the pale, it doesn’t come down to a slight judgment, it is miles beyond the pale.”
Weston described Dunne as “wholly unimpressive, obviously untruthful and at times plainly incoherent” and told the panel that in his view he had given “appalling evidence” when hinging his response on Frost’s riding style despite provocation being no defence for the breaches of which he is accused.
“It is victim-blaming and he has done it quite expressly. He is running an argument throughout this case that his conduct is justified and even acceptable by some culture of the weighing room,” he said.
Weston also made reference to Frost’s initial reluctance to come forward with her allegations and the supposed hostility she has suffered since, something he stated she would not have subjected herself to if she were not telling the truth.
“What I ask you to do is to ask yourself, mentally, this question – why would Bryony Frost make these allegations and put herself through this if what she were saying were not true?,” he said.
“It’s very clear that Ms Frost knew that by stepping up and confronting Robbie Dunne as she did she would run the risk of going against the grain of her profession and being ostracised and excluded, and she has been. Jockeys not talking to her, valets saying they are not going to work for her any more. It’s outrageous that they behave in that way because she had the guts to stand up to a bully.
“No one else was helping her, no one else was protecting her, she had nowhere else to go. She didn’t come to the BHA at a sprint, she needed encouragement and she needed time to think.
“She needed a lot of time to come to this case and I suspect she wouldn’t have done that if she was going to tell a pack of lies.”
At the conclusion of both parties’ statements the panel retired to consider their verdict.