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Osborne released without charge; Top jump jockey confident he'll be totally cleared 'very soon'.

MATT CHAPMAN

POLICE last night released Jamie Osborne without charge or condition of bail from their long-running investigation into allegations of race- fixing and doping.

The Metropolitan Police will, however, be submitting a report to the Crown Prosecution Service on the matter, but Osborne said he was confident he would be totally cleared "very soon".

Today, Osborne's fellow jump jockey Dean Gallagher and eight other men arrested in the affair, which dates back to February 1997, will appear at Charing Cross police station.

But Osborne visited the station yesterday with his solicitor, Steven Barker, for an interview which lasted just over an hour. Looking tense and nervous beforehand, Osborne appeared much more relaxed after his latest ordeal.

Following his solicitor, who clenched his fist in a victory sign, Osborne said: "I'm very pleased I have at last been interviewed, and I feel very relaxed and confident I will be cleared very soon.

"All I want to do now is all I've wanted to do since November of last year, which is to ride."

The Jockey Club last night issued a statement confirming Osborne had been released by police without charge and that the report would go to the CPS.

Christopher Spence, senior steward of the Jockey Club, said: "We welcome the decision that Jamie Osborne has not been charged by the police, and in the interests of Jamie Osborne, his family and racing, we hope that the Crown Prosecution Service will reach an early conclusion to bring this unfortunate matter to an end."

Osborne, who has also had to endure a painful recovery from injury after his left wrist was crushed in a fall at Cheltenham, added: "At long last I can look forward to riding again.

"We have been waiting since January to have a chance to speak to the police and I told them today we were very unhappy with the slow pace of the investigation. There is a new team now in charge of it and I'm confident they won't let it go on any longer."

Confirming that Osborne had not been bailed to reappear at Charing Cross, a Scotland Yard spokesman said last night: "A man arrested on January 27 attended a police station today. He was released without charge, and a report has been submitted to the Crown Prosecution Service."

Barker added: "There are people to be interviewed tomorrow so it would be wrong for me to say too much.

"But the police are very happy with the way Jamie has co-operated and he has answered all their questions truthfully and honestly. It is my professional opinion he is going to be cleared very soon."

Osborne was upset when the Jockey Club took away his licence soon after he was arrested-and then released without charge-in January.

Asked how he felt now, Osborne said: "I made my views quite clear at the time. My licence application will be going in during the next couple of weeks once I have passed the doctor."

Today sees Gallagher and the eight remaining suspects travel to Charing Cross for their interviews.

And nowhere will events there be the focus of greater tension than at the nearby Jockey Club, whose officials initiated the probe.

This is the first time such an intensive and detailed police operation has been undertaken into alleged criminal activity in racing in Britain.

The evidence in the case dates back to February 1997, a month before the dopings of jumpers Avanti Express and Lively Knight which later resulted in the widening of the inquiry.

Investigators from Portman Square's security department began looking into allegations of race-fixing as long ago as late 1996, but faced with an inability to make arrests, search and seize documents or pursue people not licensed by the Jockey Club, Scotland Yard was quickly brought in.

Gallagher and the other eight arrested men have all been ordered to report to Charing Cross police station at set times to answer their bail.

None of the nine has to date been charged with any offence in connection with the case.

The police have a choice of three courses of action open to them. They could either prefer charges, extend the bail period yet again, or inform an individual no further action is being taken as happened with Leighton Aspell, the third jockey along with Gallagher and Jamie Osborne to be arrested on January 27 this year.
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Title Annotation:Sports
Author:Chapman, Matt
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Date:Oct 6, 1998
Words:730
Previous Article:Five-day ban for Holland; Rider will miss entire Cesarewitch meeting.
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