BHA deny former integrity chief went on an ‘Oliver Reed-style bender’

·2 min read
<span>Photograph: Kumar Sriskandan/Alamy</span>
Photograph: Kumar Sriskandan/Alamy
  • Authority say claims are ‘misleading and inaccurate’

  • Chris Watts left before Tuesday’s opening of Frost-Dunne case


The British Horseracing Authority have denied a claim by former trainer Charlie Brooks that Chris Watts, the BHA’s former head of integrity assurance, left his position after an “Oliver Reed-style bender” in Newmarket earlier this year.

In a column in Monday’s Daily Telegraph, Brooks also suggested that Watts, a former senior police officer who was the anti-corruption manager for the England and Wales Cricket Board before moving to the BHA in 2017, was involved in an alcohol-fuelled incident at the British Racing School later the same day.

Related: Talking Horses: Bryony Frost case will put racing’s rulers in the dock

A subsequent disciplinary process involving Watts, according to the column, contributed to delays in convening Tuesday’s hearing into Bryony Frost’s complaint of bullying by her fellow jockey Robbie Dunne, which Watts helped to investigate.

In a statement released a few hours after publication, however, the Authority rebutted Brooks’s claims.

“The article is misleading and inaccurate and we can categorically deny the suggestion that an incident of this nature was linked in any way to a BHA regulatory investigation or led to the departure of any staff member from the BHA,” the statement said, adding: “The Daily Telegraph have been contacted to inform them of these facts.”

Watts conducted a number of interviews with members of the weighing room, including both Frost and Dunne, while investigating Frost’s complaint.

A 120-page report on the investigation, which concluded that there was a case for Dunne to answer and also suggested that some of their fellow riders had been reluctant to cooperate fully with the inquiry, was subsequently leaked to the Sunday Times. Dunne has denied all the allegations.

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