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EDITIONS
Panorama
Nine years of frustration
Roger Buffham
Roger at the races

I had an early warning during my first week in my new job as head of security at the Jockey Club that this was to be racing's most poisoned chalice.

I was taking lunch in the Jockey Club's flat in Portman Square with other senior colleagues when I was approached by a Jockey Club member, a senior hereditary peer who I knew was less than impressed that an outsider to racing had been given the job.

Over pre-lunch drinks he approached me and asked directly "What do you know about horses Buffham?"

I looked him firmly in the eye and replied: "Very little my lord, however I can say confidently that horses do not cheat, it is people who cheat and myself and the officials in my department will concern ourselves with their nefarious activities, to keep racing clean."

"Too bloody clever by half," he blustered. He turned his back on me and never spoke to me again during my nine years in office.

Recording equipment

During 1992/1993 I was busy restructuring the Security Department. One of the first initiatives was to recruit people from within racing as Investigating Officers.

This role had previously been undertaken by former police officers employed in the department, none of whom had any equine experience.

In 1994/1995, further initiatives were introduced which included the installation of CCTV cameras and recording equipment at the stables at all 59 racecourses.

The role of Betting Intelligence Officer was broadened and redesignated as Racing Intelligence Officers. New staff were recruited from the ranks of the police special branch and Military Intelligence.

Corruption


By the end of 1995 it was clear to me that there was considerable corruption in the sport

Roger Buffham
By the end of 1995 it was clear to me that there was considerable corruption in the sport and that this corruption was institutionalised.

This situation was exacerbated by the fact that betting on horseracing was under regulated to the extent that there was no statutory oversight on the activities of bookmakers in contrast to the regulation which exists to protect the public in other forms of gambling.

In late 1996, I persuaded the Stewards of the Jockey Club that it was necessary to strengthen the powers of the licensing committee by the introduction of the "fit and proper persons" protocol.

This together with procedures which allowed the committee to warn jockeys and trainers, if their conduct fell short of the standards expected by the Jockey Club as a regulatory body.

Relentless attacks


The Jockey Club did nothing to publicly support me.

Roger Buffham
Following the press briefings at which this policy decision was announced, I was pilloried in the racing press and in the racing pages of the tabloids.

The attacks on me personally were vehement, unpleasant and sustained relentlessly for several months. The Jockey Club did nothing to publicly support me.

This did much to undermine me personally and the staff in my department. It was also highly damaging to my reputation.

Later in the same year, working on intelligence received from a reliable informant, a file was handed to the police concerning the activities of a group of people who were believed to be fixing races and doping horses.

Intelligence and evidence from other sources also indicated that a significant number of National Hunt jockeys were involved with someone who was suspected by the police and customs of being involved with the importation of large quantities of cocaine into the UK.

Resignation

The person concerned was known to be entertaining jockeys in private boxes at racecourses, in London nightclubs and at his villa in Spain.

St the trials of "gang" members held at Woolwich and Southampton Crown Courts in 2001, evidence was heard that jockeys regularly provided "Mr Big" with inside riding information for cash and other presents.

After the collapse of the "doping trial" at 'Southwark Crown Court in 2000, I was once again subjected to considerable vilification in the racing press, with calls for my sacking.

I offered my resignation to Christopher Spence, the senior steward. He refused to accept it and asked me to work with him to attempt to restore public confidence.

In June of 2001 I went on holiday for the first time in four years. On my return I was summoned to the Chief Executives office to be told that I was to be the subject of disciplinary proceedings following a complaint in my absence and from a member of my own staff.

Duty to speak


I decided that I had a public duty to speak out.

Roger Buffham
I departed from the Jockey Club under contrived and acrimonious circumstances in September 2001. These matters are now to be the subject of civil proceedings.

Earlier this year, when I was approached by Stephen Scott, a producer at Panorama, I had certain misgivings about becoming a "Whistleblower".

However, when I realised the true significance of the manner in which I was forced to leave my post and moreover, that the Jockey Club was unlikely ever to take action against people corrupting horseracing, I decided that I had a public duty to speak out.

I believe that my decision to do so has been totally vindicated by the efforts taken through the courts, by the Jockey Club to prevent me from doing so.

They failed in those endeavours and they will continue to fail the public unless they demonstrate a firm resolve to keep racing clean and as free as possible from crime.


The Investigation

The Court cases

Profiles

The Jockey Club




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