Trainer Milton Harris

Milton Harris has training licence removed following BHA hearing

Milton Harris has been found not to be a “fit and proper person” to hold a trainer’s licence, in written reasons issued by the British Horseracing Authority’s Licensing Committee.

The Warminster handler had his licence suspended by the BHA in November pending a hearing in January, with the BHA saying it was “a result of a breach of the conditions on his licence and related matters”.

The Licensing Committee said the concerns of the BHA surrounded “the nature and extent of MH’s admitted breaches of the conditions which already exist on his licence, which were imposed in 2018 and MH’s failure to be candid in his dealings with the BHA in respect of those breaches, particularly when the BHA was seeking to provide opportunities for MH to remedy those breaches”, “misconduct in his dealings with others, including fellow licence holder Mr Simon Earle” and “in respect of safeguarding arising out of MH’s conduct with young persons employed at his racing yard”.

In the wake of the ruling, BHA director of integrity and regulatory operations, Tim Naylor, said: “Racing is a sport that works hard to provide a safe and welcoming space for all and the ruling of the Licensing Committee in this case sends a clear message that those in positions of authority in our industry must act in a way that upholds these values.

“We are grateful to the committee for their time in considering this matter and also to those who came forward to share their experiences of Mr Harris and gave evidence at the hearing.

“Some of the details in the Licensing Committee’s decision make for extremely uncomfortable reading. Mr Harris’s behaviour over a prolonged period of time fell a long way short of what we expect of a licensed person and, as the committee found, would cause damage to racing’s reputation if allowed to continue without repercussion.

“We are, therefore, pleased with the panel’s finding that Mr Harris is not a fit and proper person to hold a licence.

“As is clear from the decision, the BHA’s concerns ranged across a number of very serious issues. One of these concerns related to safeguarding. The BHA takes its safeguarding responsibilities extremely seriously and, as demonstrated by its bringing this case before the Licensing Committee, will do everything within its powers to ensure that those working in our sport do so in an environment befitting what should rightly be expected by them and, in the case of young people, their parents or guardians upon taking a job in the sport.

“The BHA recently published an updated Safeguarding and Human Welfare Strategy, which built on our existing policies and seeks to protect and promote the safety and wellbeing of everyone involved in the sport.

“As always, we would encourage anybody who feels they have been subjected to or witnessed inappropriate behaviour in our sport to contact us. The BHA’s Code of Conduct clearly establishes the standards that everyone involved in racing is expected to uphold and we will never turn a blind eye to concerns raised about conduct which may fall below these standards.”

At the beginning of December, Harris’ assistant Tony Charlton was granted a temporary training licence by the BHA, “with agreed conditions attached”.

Contacted by the PA news agency, Harris described himself as “disappointed” by the verdict, with a further response planned in the coming days.

He said: “I’ve just seen the decision of the committee and I’m obviously disappointed.

“My immediate priority is to look after the horses, owners and long-serving staff here and in the immediate that will be my sole focus. I will make a statement (on the decision) in a few days’ time.”

Harris, who started his training career in 2001, had a seven-year enforced absence from 2011 to 2018 due to financial issues.

Since returning to the sport he has saddled some notable winners, highlighted by Knight Salute, who claimed the 2022 Grade One Jewson Anniversary 4-y-o Juvenile Hurdle at Aintree along with three Grade Two victories that season.

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