Robbie Dunne found guilty of four bullying and harassment charges towards Bryony Frost over seven-month period

Robbie Dunne found in breach of four counts of engaging in conduct which the BHA considers is prejudicial to the integrity, proper conduct and good reputation of horseracing by bullying and harassing Bryony Frost; Dunne banned from racing for 18 months, with three months suspended

Jockey Robbie Dunne (PA)
Image: Jockey Robbie Dunne has been found guilty of four charges by the British Horseracing Authority

Jockey Robbie Dunne has been banned from racing for 18 months, with three months suspended, after being found guilty of bullying and harassing fellow rider Bryony Frost over a seven-month period.

The British Horseracing Authority (BHA) found Dunne in breach of four charges of conduct prejudicial to the integrity, proper conduct and good reputation of racing, including bullying and harassing Frost between February 13, 2020 and September 3, 2020.

Dunne had faced a total of seven charges, admitting one charge of acting in a violent or improper manner towards Frost, and the BHA is yet to confirm the outcome of the remaining two charges.

The suspension is effective immediately, running for 18 months from Thursday The final three months are suspended. Robbie Dunne has seven days from today to appeal against the panel's decision.

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****** w***e", "f****** s**t" and "dangerous c***" towards her.

Bryony Frost
Image: Dunne was found to have threatened Bryony Frost by promising to 'put her through a wing (of a fence)'

In a statement on Thursday, Frost said: "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.

"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."

'Frost truthful, thoughtful and compelling' - BHA panel chair

An independent three-person panel, chaired by Brian Barker QC, oversaw the hearing.

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 3 were, as a promise, to cause real harm - over and above the usual jockey mantra of 'murdering'.

Robbie Dunne
Image: Dunne has been banned from racing for 18 months, with three months suspended

"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 p*** taker" and who regarded himself as one of the elders of the weighing room and someone who expected his view to be heeded.

Jockey heads to the weighing room
Image: In his concluding statement, BHA panel chair Brian Barker raised concerns over the 'deep-rooted and coercive' nature of the weighing room

"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."

PJA: Dunne trial 'not fair process'; BHA's 'rancid' comment incredibly damaging

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The Professional Jockeys Association have said that they do not believe Dunne has been subjected to a remotely fair process in the wake of his 18-month ban for bullying and harassing Bryony Frost.

The Professional Jockeys Association (PJA) says Dunne has not been subject to a "remotely fair process" and described the BHA findings on weighing room culture as "incredibly damaging".

Following the BHA's ruling on Thursday, the PJA expressed "great sympathy" with Frost and accepted Dunne's conduct fell "well short" of expected standards.

Before Dunne's trial, the PJA called on the BHA investigation to end after documents related to the case were leaked to the Sunday Times, claiming a fair hearing was therefore "impossible".

The PJA's statement on Thursday read: "The PJA does not accept the Disciplinary Panel's findings in relation to the culture within and collective behaviour of the jump jockeys weighing room. It is a grossly inaccurate and wholly unfair representation of the weighing-room and a conclusion we believe is at odds with the evidence presented.

Bryony Frost's statement following the BHA's ruling against fellow rider Robbie Dunne
Image: Bryony Frost's statement following the BHA's ruling against fellow rider Robbie Dunne

"On October 25th of this year, in response to the leak of confidential case papers and the resulting coverage in the media, the PJA stated that in our view a fair hearing was impossible and called for the BHA to bring the matter to a close.

"Our fears have been realised and we do not believe Robbie Dunne has been subjected to a remotely fair process."

The statement continued: "The PJA and its members are appalled by the BHA's characterisation of the weighing room culture as "rancid", made via their advocate and therefore presumably under instruction. This and the BHA's conduct throughout this process is incredibly damaging."

The PJA statement added it does not condone bullying and highlighted its latest code of conduct on jockey behaviour.

'Dunne verdict a severe indictment on weighing room culture'

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Journalist Paul Hayward has said the guilty verdict in Robbie Dunne's BHA disciplinary hearing has left a 'severe indictment on the sport's weighing room culture'

Journalist Paul Hayward feels the BHA's ruling will have far wider implications on the National Hunt weighing room, highlighting panel chair Barker's comments on its "deep-rooted" and "coercive" nature.

Hayward told Sky Sports Racing: "It's a huge outcome for the weighing room and National Hunt racing. This goes far beyond the specific instances of Robbie Dunne harassing and bullying Bryony Frost.

"Beyond that, there is a severe indictment of the whole National Hunt weighing room culture being laid down today.

"Brian Barker, the panel chair, called the weighing room culture deep-rooted and coercive.

"Yesterday, in his summing up, Louis Weston, the BHA's representative, described a 'vendetta' and talked of a 'rancid' culture.

"There will be jump jockeys reeling today from all the implications that come with this verdict."

Decision reflects seriousness of accusations - BHA statement

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BHA Director of Integrity and Regulation Tim Naylor has said Dunne's language towards Frost was deemed unacceptable in any workplace, including horse racing.

After the verdict, the BHA released a statement saying: "In our view this decision, and the comments of the independent Judicial Panel, reflect the seriousness of the accusations.

"It sends a clear message that conduct of this nature cannot be tolerated in any working environment within our sport. This case has been a ground-breaking one for British racing, the first of its kind, and it is important that it acts as a catalyst for further change within the industry.

"We understand that, for the vast majority of those who work in the sport - and in particular in the jockeys' weighing room - it is a positive, supportive, welcoming place. We recognise the pressures on those involved in the sport, and that temperatures will at times be raised.

"However, there is a line as to what is acceptable. It is essential that when something does go wrong that people feel that they can call out bad behaviour, and not be made to suffer in silence.

"The independent Judicial Panel Chair voiced concerns regarding these issues in his judgement. We call on everyone in the industry to recognise this.

"By stepping forward to report the behaviour of which she was on the receiving end, Bryony Frost took a courageous step. We hope that others who may be in similar positions will feel comfortable doing the same."

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