(the following is a press release issued by the NHA, 7 Feb 2011)
The National Horseracing Authority confirms that Owner Mr S Reid appeared before an Inquiry Board at its offices in Johannesburg on Thursday, 3 February 2011.
The reason for the Inquiry was to consider whether the content of a publication which was posted on Mr Reid’s website on or about the 3rd of October 2010, to which stakeholders in the racing industry have access, constitutes a breach of Rule 72.1.26, in that the highlighted content of the aforesaid article has or might have the affect of discrediting horseracing and/or which may bring into disrepute the good name of The National Horseracing Authority.
ADV G I HOFFMAN SC AND ADV D N BEASLEY SC
This inquiry concerns a possible contravention of the provisions of Rule 72.1.26 of the Rules of The National Horseracing Authority of Southern Africa. That Rule reads:
Without in any way derogating from the provisions of the RULES, no PERSON shall:-
72.1.26 behave or conduct himself in such a manner which has or might have the effect of discrediting horse racing or which does or might bring into disrepute the good name of the NATIONAL HORSERACING AUTHORITY, and various other bodies and persons associated with the National Horseracing Authority . . . . .”
The complaint of The National Horseracing Authority that we have been mandated to inquire into, concerns a blog published by Mr Reid on his website in which reference is made to the election of a new Chairman of The National Horseracing Authority. The blog is a rambling and unstructured one. It appears to have been written without a great deal of thought and significantly relies on what we find far too often in the Racing Industry, anonymous sources who are not named and information that is unsubstantiated concerning what is alleged to have taken place at various meetings. There is no doubt that the blog was designed to be sensationalist and it’s difficult to understand why it was written and what the purpose of it was and what it sought to achieve. Having said that, the article appears primarily to comprise an attack on two Directors who serve on the Board of The National Horseracing Authority, Messrs Robin Bruss and Larry Wainstein. As an aside, we point out that if indeed the blog is defamatory on them or either of them, they are free to institute whatever proceedings they deem necessary to protect their good names.
Mr Roodt argued that the article necessarily implicates The National Horseracing Authority in the improper and we use the word advisedly the “improper conduct”, attributed to Mr Bruss and to Mr Wainstein, more particularly, if one reads the last paragraph of the article. In our view if one has regard to the article as a whole, the last paragraph doesn’t properly follow on from it. It does not make sense in its own terms and it is not consonant with the tenor of the rest of the article. It adds little to what has gone before and is no more once again a gratuitous criticism primarily of the two persons concerned, but perhaps also of The National Horseracing Authority.
We have concluded that for the reasons that will follow, it is not necessary to decide the difficult constitutional issues argued by Mr Roodt and by Mr Jordaan and in particular the question of whether or not the provisions of section 72.1.26 offend against the constitutional right to fair speech. It is also not necessary to decide whether or not the words used in Rule 72.1.26 which relate to behaviour or conduct, include behaviour or conduct in writing, as argued by Mr Roodt and as disputed by Mr Jordaan.
To sum up, whilst we believe that there is merit and justification in part for the argument advanced by Mr Roodt, we do not believe that a charge in terms of Rule 72.1.26 should be preferred in consequence of the blog published by Mr Reid on his website.
So no further action will be taken.