It’s only just begun
Mike Deasy on the row between the Jockey Club and its former CEO Delia Bushell, and the chances are it’s only just begun
Sunday evening’s usual tranquillity was suddenly and dramatically broken around 7pm by a statement from the Jockey Club saying that, following a report by an independent barrister, a number of allegations of gross misconduct including bullying and making racist comments made against Delia Bushell had been upheld and that she was no longer the organisation’s chief executive.
The statement said an independent barrister interviewed 19 witnesses, including Delia, going on to say: “He submitted a detailed report to a sub-committee of the board comprising Dido Harding, Julia Budd and Justin Dowley on Sunday 23 August, in which he concluded that there was evidence to support a number of the allegations of misconduct, including bullying behaviour towards colleagues, inappropriate racist comments and sharing offensive materials.
“The sub-committee of the board agreed with his conclusion and decided that there was a basis for disciplinary action against Delia including on the grounds of gross misconduct. This recommendation was accepted by the full board of the Jockey Club.
Not long after, Bushell’s letter of resignation, just short of 1,000 words, was made public and included counter accusations, questioning such matters as the independence of the barrister appointed by the Jockey Club, that the process was flawed and biased, and that collusion had occurred among a number of male witnesses.
“This grievance process, and the management of the broader situation created by it, have been fundamentally mishandled by the Board of Stewards. The Board’s engagement with me has been disingenuous and focused on protecting its own interests at my expense.
“The Board purports to be upholding fairness in its management of the grievance, but this is not the case: the process followed was both flawed and biased. There is nothing fair about a process in which the testimony of myself and my witnesses is largely disregarded or discredited on the grounds that they “may not be objective”, while the evidence of collusion by a number of male witnesses, all senior executives in the Jockey Club, both ahead of the filing of the grievance and during the investigation process itself, is ignored by your barrister.”
She went on to say:
“I hope the Board of Stewards will reflect at length on their conduct during this sad process, on the culture they have presided over at the Jockey Club for many years, and on the impact created by their mismanagement of a collusive series of allegations by someone who felt threatened by a change management process that they themselves had required.”
There was more of the same throughout the letter and, with that riposte, it would seem that this is only the beginning of a long, drawn-out saga
Bushell has questioned the integrity of the Jockey Club’s handling of the inquiry, and in her letter says “I reserve all of my rights”. The likelihood is that she will revert to the courts to challenge the process and the outcome of which she is fervently critical. Failure to do so means the findings remain in place.
Going to court means the Jockey Club will have to defend the process which will come under rigorous and possibly uncomfortable scrutiny. And, as the front page of The Times indicates, it’s going to be a very public spectacle.
Whatever happens now, it’s yet another episode in recent Jockey Club history that it could well do without, not least the time and money such proceedings will soak up.
Racing Ahead magazine has announced that Robert Cooper is to join as a new columnist. Those at the monthly magazine must be hoping that history doesn’t repeat itself.
“Sir Bob” previously penned columns for Racing Plus and The Racing Paper. Both titles folded.
More Of Course
♦ Quite an eventful week as things go http://wp.me/p8e3Dl-4Fq
♦ Problems mount up for Jockey Club http://wp.me/p8e3Dl-4v7