Defendants' lack of representation was unsatisfactory; RACING POST COMMENT.
WHATEVER the eventual fate of Eamon Tyrrell and Jason Behan after being found guilty, their lack of legal representation at the hearing last Wednesday cannot be allowed to pass without comment.
A report in the Racing Post on September 4 revealed that the trainer and jockey had secured the services of the legal team who successfully represented Harry Findlay when the owner-gambler's six-month suspension was quashed in July.
But when Tyrrell and Behan walked into the lion's den, otherwise known as the BHA inquiry room in the basement of its London office, they did so unaccompanied.
Tyrrell said that until a couple of days earlier they were set to have barrister Roderick Moore and solicitor Daryl Cowan in their corner, but that the cost - pounds 18,000 according to Tyrrell - led to a change of mind.
Whether it should be incumbent on the BHA to conduct a potentially career-ending or financially damaging hearing with legal representation on both sides of the room - ie. stand the cost of providing a solicitor for the defence - could be a matter for debate, but with integrity spend already under pressure, given the industry's financial straits, it is probably a non-starter.
As things stand, it is up to the defence to meet the cost of being represented. An irony of this inquiry is that Graeme McPherson QC, for the BHA, in trying to paint a picture of a future betting coup that would provide a motive for Behan's ride at Newcastle, made a lot of Tyrrell's dwindling string - down to four from 60 before the credit crunch - and Behan's dwindling rides: seven this year, down from 50-plus in 2005.
So if they are down on their luck, they can hardly have been expected to enter the fray with a legal representative to challenge McPherson's assertions.
Whatever the ins and outs, it was uncomfortable at times observing the aggressive nature of McPherson's questions and statements, knowing there was no-one on the opposite side of the room to give him some back.
McPherson has presented many BHA cases and is comfortable in an environment that Tyrrell and Behan were clearly, understandably, uncomfortable in.
"Lambs to the slaughter," was a phrase Tyrrell and Behan both used to describe their situation. Behan had never even been to London before, and in his summing up again made mention of the difference it made to him and the trainer in not having the money for a barrister or solicitor.
Both were happy with the way panel chairman Tim Charlton conducted affairs, but if their not being legally represented was bad news for Tyrrell and Behan, you sensed it was not ideal for the panel either.
INEVITABLY, in mulling over its verdict, it would have reflected the disadvantage to trainer and jockey of not having representation. That is unsatisfactory all round.
It was easy to imagine a solicitor and/or barrister getting stuck in to McPherson after many of his allegations, comments and questions, particularly in regard to his trying to explain a "betting coup" motive for the Newcastle ride, and the use of articles in the Racing Post as evidence.
Should this end up with an appeal against their penalties, it would be fascinating to see what difference legal representation would make. Perhaps if Harry Findlay wins the Scoop6 this week, he'll stand the cost, just for the hell of it.