Has BetFair a little part of responsibility in the collapse of the Kieren Fallon trial (which cost British taxpayers ?950,000)?

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BetFair actively report betting that appears to them out of the ordinary. And, if any sport regulator has concerns, then BetFair provide them with additional information. BetFair, of course, has no say in whether a criminal offense has been committed, and no input into the prosecution (the Crown Prosecution Service).

In the Fallon case (an Irish jockey suspected of collusion with some bettors), the British police investigated the incidents. BetFair provided testimony. But the British justice decided that mister Fallon shouldn&#8217-t be convicted.

This week, the British police aired an internal report about why they lost the case &#8212-their fault, they write. I won&#8217-t analyze the full case on Midas Oracle, but I just want to touch 2 things:

  1. The Times (of London) says that &#8220-any prosecution based on race-reading, that is proving a motive by [analyzing] a jockey&#8217-s ride, is doomed because it is open to so many interpretations.&#8221-
  2. The British Police &#8220-had an inadequate understanding of the nature of online betting exchanges and the process of laying a horse to lose, the mechanism by which the defendants were alleged to have attempted to profit from fixed races.&#8221-

This second point was very clear during the trial, and the media reported, at the time, that BetFair didn&#8217-t do a good job in making sure that the Police would understand all the facts and mechanisms involved. Below are the media excerpts that make that case.

The Guardian:

[…] [Acting detective inspector Mark Manning] began his investigation by visiting the offices of Betfair, the company through which the bets involved in the case were made. He was told that Fallon&#8217-s fellow defendant Miles Rodgers had risked a total of ?2m, but Manning misunderstood and left with the belief that Rodgers had made a net profit of that amount. By the time the trial opened more than three years later, it had become clear that Rodgers had made a net loss of over ?250,000 on the races concerned. […]

The Guardian:

[…] In part, the fault is Betfair&#8217-s, for failing to ensure that police investigators understood the meaning of the complex evidence they provided, and for passing pages of irrelevant data to the Crown that provided one of many early embarrassments for the prosecution. […]

The senior detective in charge of the investigation, Mark Manning, had met [Betfair lawyer David O’Reilly] at Betfair&#8217-s offices earlier that year [in 2004]. Manning left with a fundamental misunderstandingthat Rodgers had made a net profit of ?2m from his betting activities, when in fact this was the total amount that had been risked. By the time the trial began, it had become clear that the accounts controlled by Rodgers had in fact made a net loss of more than ?250,000 on the 27 races investigated.

Betfair provided more than 300 pages of data in evidence, showing the betting activities of Rodgers&#8217- accounts on these 27 races. O&#8217-Reilly, the first witness called, claimed in court that this data showed how Rodgers would take bets on certain horses at much bigger odds than were being offered by anyone else. Under cross-examination, however, O&#8217-Reilly was led to the realisation that the Betfair data for eight of the 27 races included details of bets made after the race had started, at which point larger odds could be justified by mid-race developments. Observers were shocked that Betfair could have made such a blunder in handling its own data.

The father of one of the accused (and now cleared) jockey:

The man from Betfair admitted at the start of the trial he had misled police as to the amounts that had been gambled and then they brought in an expert witness from Australia [Ray Murrihy, Racing NSW’s chief steward] who doesn&#8217-t know how things work here [in the U.K.].

Daily Mail:

The case highlighted the difficulty of proving, forensically and legally, that a jockey has tried and succeeded in stopping a horse from winning.

BBC News:

[…] At the end of the day, serious questions will be asked of both City of London Police and the Crown Prosecution Service as to why they agreed to proceed with a case that was so flawed and had little chance of success.

The BetFair-Fallon debacle cost British taxpayers ?950,000.

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Thank God I don&#8217-t pay my taxes in the UK. I&#8217-d be furious at BetFair and at the British Police.

NEXT: Has BetFair a little part of responsibility in the collapse of the Kieren Fallon trial?

Previous blog posts by Chris F. Masse:

  • A second look at HedgeStreet’s comment to the CFTC about “event markets”
  • Since YooPick opened their door, Midas Oracle has been getting, daily, 2 or 3 dozens referrals from FaceBook.
  • US presidential hopeful John McCain hates the Midas Oracle bloggers.
  • If you have tried to contact Chris Masse thru the Midas Oracle Contact Form, I’m terribly sorry to inform you that your message was not delivered to the recipient.
  • “Over a ten-year period commencing on January 1, 2008, and ending on December 31, 2017, the S & P 500 will outperform a portfolio of funds of hedge funds, when performance is measured on a basis net of fees, costs and expenses.”
  • Meet professor Thomas W. Malone (on the right), from the MIT’s Center for Collective Intelligence.

Fallon Betfair Trial Collapses

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Mr Justice Forbes said today that Australian horse race expert Mr Murrihy in his witness statement had been critical of the riding in 13 of the races and that there was a prima facie case against the jockeys. However, he added:

Remarkably, it was only in cross-examination that the very significant limitations and shortcomings in the evidence he was able to give became clear.

In court, Mr Murrihy had said &#8216-it was not incumbent that I verse myself in UK or other jurisdiction rules&#8217-.

Mr Murrihy also said in evidence:

I have not said I was an expert in respect of UK races.

The judge said in his ruling today:

This is an extraordinary admission given that he was purporting to give evidence about 27 races run in the UK according to UK racing rules&#8230-. In my opinion, that was tantamount to Mr Murrihy disqualifying himself in giving evidence in relation to the suspect races. In my opinion it is now clear that Mr Murrihy&#8217-s evidence was subject to a number of significant limitations and shortcomings which were not evident from his witness statements and his evidence in chief. It is abundantly clear that his evidence fell far, far short of establishing a prima facie breach of UK racing rules. I have reached the conclusion that even if it was appropriate to admit Mr Murrihy&#8217-s expert opinion, its probative value is so limited that very little value can be attached to it.

The judge said there was insufficient evidence on which a jury could conclude that the jockeys, and therefore all the defendants, were guilty.

The British Horseracing Authority said after the case:

The restrictions placed on the three jockeys involved in the proceedings expired at the conclusion of the proceedings. Kieren Fallon, who is licensed by the Irish Turf Club, is therefore able to ride in Great Britain, and Fergal Lynch and Darren Williams are able to re-apply for their jockey licences.

Fallon&#8217-s spokesman immediately called for two inquiries into the case – one into the police testimony, the other into why the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) proceeded with the trial. He estimated the trial cost taxpayers ?10m.

Fallon, 41, from County Clare, Ireland, and two other jockeys, Fergal Lynch and Darren Williams, were charged with conspiracy to defraud customers of Betfair, the world&#8217-s biggest online gambling service. The former owner and racing syndicate director, Miles Rodgers, was also charged with conspiracy to defraud and with an offence under the Proceeds of Crime Act.

[External Link: BBC News]

Once again, the BetFair legal department censors the traders.

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BetFair forum:

Postings in relation to ‘race-fixing’ trial
Betfair Customer Services 09 Oct 10:39

Whilst the criminal trial involving 3 jockeys and others is sub judice (i.e. being considered in court), comment on the case is inappropriate and could even be an offence in itself leading to contempt of court proceeding against those commenting. This is particularly true given the criminal charges being considered where publicly discussing such cases sub judice may constitute interference with due process (not least because jurors may be exposed to such public discussion).

As a consequence whilst this matter remains sub judice, forum postings discussing the matter will be removed as and when they come to Betfair’s attention. This also means we will have to revoke forum posting rights of customers who persist in commenting on the case on Betfair’s forums.

BetFair traders, come on Midas Oracle to post your comments on the Fallon case. Here, we do not censor anyone.

UPDATE: They talk about the Fallon case in the Chamber of Lords. (See next page.)

Have Betfair ever extended a ?1m credit line to Harry Findlay?

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Asked the lawyer representing one of the defendants in the Fallon case. For your information, &#8220-Harry Findlay&#8221- is the name of a &#8220-high-profile, high-staking punter who has never been connected with the case.&#8221- Why is it that his name is brought into the courtroom, then?? Bizarre. There is something they know and we don&#8217-t, obviously.

The link is from Niall O’Connor.

UPDATE: More from the Beeb.