Adam Brickell’s departure from BHA may not be the last after Jim Best case
British Horseracing Authority Adam Brickell’s departure from BHA may not be the last after Jim Best case Chris Cook The problems arising from the Best affair have caused one high profile BHA employee to leave and it would be surprising if there weren’t further casualties
Adam Brickell is to quit racing’s ruling body, where he has been integrity director for less than four years, in a development sure to be linked to fallout from the Jim Best case, though any connection is officially denied. The British Horseracing Authority insists Brickell’s move has not been prompted by the disastrous few months his department has endured since news broke that a finding against Best would have to be quashed.
“I felt it was a natural time to move on to a fresh challenge,” Brickell is quoted as saying in a BHA press release. There is no word, however, on whether he has a job waiting for him,plans to take time to assess his opportunities, whether he will stay in sports regulation or return to private practice as a solicitor at the age of 36 after seven years at High Holborn.
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Another sporting body might be cautious in approaching Brickell as a possible hire, given the catastrophe that has unfolded on his watch. But, for now, his employer offers nothing but praise, the BHA’s Nick Rust giving him a slap on the back when many other chief executives might have quietly distanced themselves.
“Adam has played a key role in ensuring British racing has effective governance structures in place and the necessary policies to help keep our sport fair and clean,” Rust said. “I am sorry he is leaving but I fully understand and respect his decision.”
Rust explained that Brickell’s integrity review, published in March, had led to “new thinking” about how the BHA’s regulatory function is organised. “In discussing this with Adam, it is clear that future roles are unlikely to fit with his personal ambitions.”
In other words Brickell’s review somehow managed to eliminate his own job. Sadly the BHA could offer no further detail about why that should happen but promises to publish details of “organisational improvements” on 30 September alongside the independent Quinlan review into its disciplinary process.
A quiet, restrained and methodical man, Brickell walked into something of a firestorm after his elevation to integrity director in December 2012. By the following spring, he was grappling with the biggest doping scandal in the sport’s history, which resulted in Mahmood al-Zarooni being quickly banished, as well as a separate steroid scandal in Newmarket.
Things got worse in October 2013, when the solicitor Matthew Lohn was first commissioned to give legal advice to the BHA, a fact that was not public until April this year. Lohn was a member of the BHA’s independent disciplinary panel and his hiring by the BHA meant all of his verdicts thereafter were open to challenge, as in Best’s case, on the grounds of an appearance of bias.
Two such verdicts have now been quashed, while those found in breach in seven other cases have been told by the BHA that they may have a right of action. The cost to the sport of mopping up this mess remains unclear but seems sure to run into six figures.
In view of his seniority there is no avoiding the likelihood that Brickell must bear at least a portion of the responsibility for this mess when the BHA finally gets round to sharing its view on the subject. BHA insiders do not, privately, argue with that proposition. But his departure robs the regulator of one candidate in the event that a cathartic firing should be deemed necessary, leaving those who remain shifting uncomfortably in their seats.
Brickell will apparently leave in mid-September which, by remarkable coincidence, is also when the Best rehearing is due to take place. Arguments continue between the BHA and Best’s lawyers as to whether the rehearing should be postponed until after Quinlan reports.