In an unprecedented move, BHA chief executive Nick Rust admitted the botched handling of both investigations were “case studies which we must learn from” and added: “I would like to add my sincere apologies to them both for falling short of the required standards”.
Boyle was eventually cleared of ‘milkshaking’ the horse New Den in 2011, while Walton found herself embroiled in a corruption inquiry lasting three years before all charges were dropped last March, a week before she was meant to face the BHA.
The report goes on to set out six recommendations for improvements to the BHA’s integrity department, including an urgent review of its disciplinary panel, licensing committee and appeal board.
It also highlights a number of eye-opening findings, including the suggestion the BHA lacks the expertise to properly judge the merits of a given ride, an acknowledgement of a feeling of ‘them and us’ between the sport’s participants and the BHA, and an acceptance of pettiness within the disciplinary process.
Despite the findings, the report’s author, BHA director of integrity, legal and risk Adam Brickell, insisted the BHA was seen as a world leader in ensuring integrity.
“A lot of the interviews we conducted were very positive about the level of integrity within our sport and the BHA’s role in that,” he said.
“That doesn’t suggest we are perfect, so some of the points in the report are about how we can get even better.”