Uncomfortable Times for the Jockey Club
Mike Deasy on The Times making life uncomfortable for the Jockey Club
When the Jockey Club’s CEO, Delia Bushell, suddenly left the organisation, it was a story that went beyond the racing media due to the unfolding drama of Bushell’s sudden Sunday evening departure.
It came after a Jockey Club statement 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.
It was front page news for The Times (pictured), whose proprietor, Rupert Murdoch, has had a lifelong dislike of what he sees as elitist organisations.
So, in the past week The Times had another opportunity to make life uncomfortable for the Jockey Club. The Times had seen an email, circulated to the Club’s senior executives, in which the then head of human resources, Linda Bowles, shared a slide from a presentation, called Where were we in 2017-18, which said there had been “a number of grievances and investigations into allegations of sexist, racist homophobic and/or bullying behaviour.”
The Times also reminded readers that the board of stewards includes Baroness Harding of Winscombe (Dido Harding) – the head of the NHS Test and Trace programme.
It was such alleged behaviour which Ms Bushell referred to in her letter of resignation which was quickly available to the media the evening she left the Jockey Club.
She said there were “longstanding discriminatory undertones” at the Club, and referred to “a male-dominated organisation that has a troubling history of ignoring serious complaints against senior men and which seeks to discredit and ostracise any one challenging its status quo.”
The Jockey Club responded to the presentation’s references to the grievances and investigations with a statement saying: “Over the last ten years there have been a very small number of formal complaints raised by our employees around the UJK and each has been thoroughly investigated. We always take appropriate action to address any concerns and learn any lessons for the future.”
As is always the case when a newspaper has “seen” documents, there has to be someone who has made them available. It’s anyone’s guess who that might be with the presentation circulated within the Jockey Club nearly a year ago.
But once the email was circulated, its subsequent arrival in the public domain does not come as too much of a surprise and, as these scribblings have said before, there’s likely be more discomfort for the Jockey Club in the coming months.
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The stands are empty – we know
Listening to ITV Racing host Ed Chamberlain as guest on the Racing Post’s latest Postcast, it’s clear that presenting from empty racecourses is dispiriting, especially at last weekend’s deserted Cheltenham.
But I think we can now dispense with the many references to the tracks being empty and what a shame it is that there’s no one except a handful of people present to witness the racing.
We racegoers are now resigned to the current situation for many more weeks.
“I often wondered myself” – AP McCoy answering a question on ITV Racing on how jockeys get a horse to meet a fence on a good stride
Life’s like that
It probably didn’t go down too well at the Racing Post, who’s cost cutting measures have meant the ending of their sponsorship of the Arkle Chase, that Cheltenham has quickly found a replacement – the Post’s online rival sporting life.
The Flutter owned website, which came with the acquisition of Sky Bet, means the sporting life site is starting to flex its muscles.
It’s also the new home for a column by Irish trainer Willie Mullins whose thoughts previously appeared in the Post.