Paul Gilligan: found guilty at a panel chaired by Matthew Lohn
PICTURE: Patrick McCann (racingpost.com/photos)
THE solicitor representing Paul Gilligan on Wednesday said he would be seeking an apology from the BHA and an offer to pay legal costs, just as trainer Jim Best received at his appeal hearing on Tuesday.
Cheltenham Festival-winning trainer Gilligan won a stay of his six-month suspension – for sending a horse who had competed at an unrecognised meeting in Ireland to race at Uttoxeter in 2014 – until after the completion of the Best appeal having been convicted in April by a panel chaired by Matthew Lohn.
Michael Keane, who represents Gilligan, argued the decision was “substantially unfair and prejudicial” because the BHA was a client of Lohn, for which it has now emerged he was paid £55,000.
Conflict of interests
“From my own perspective I will be expecting to be hearing from the BHA shortly to see if they agree to do the same as they have done with the Best case,” Keane said on Wednesday.
“That is to give him an apology and pay our costs. I find it incredible when the BHA were warned some time prior to the Best case about the potential conflict or the perception of a conflict that they didn’t deem it of any consequence.
“In any tribunal you have to have a proper division of individuals in terms of who is at the top table. It is a long-held premise in any law, it doesn’t matter the jurisdiction.”
Gilligan has lodged an appeal, which is set to be heard on July 18, but Keane questioned whether that hearing or a rehearing should now go ahead.
‘It’s even worse than being back at square one’
“I think it’s not a good idea,” he said. “There is a finding of guilty against my client already which is in the public domain. Due process has to apply.
“The one thing that has been lost in all this is the terrible pressure and upset visited on Jim Best and his family and my own client and his family. They are small trainers and they are still in limbo. They can’t make a plan for their careers, they can’t get new owners. It’s even worse than being back at square one.
“I would have thought the BHA should have dealt with these cases and agreed to move on with their new procedures. If they insist on a rehearing we will be going over to deal with it fully and forcefully.”
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