Letter from QRIC Commissioner Ross Barnett to David Farquharson
I have written a detailed explanation of the reasons that Queensland Racing Integrity Commissioner has proven that he is unfit to hold office, and must immediately resign.
Here is the short version.
On 5 July 2016 a highly respected harness racing licensee named Neale Scott was disqualified from the sport he loves and has been involved in for 45 years.
Scott’s disqualification was imposed after he was found guilty in a three day hearing chaired by Chief Steward David Farquharson of presenting a horse to race at a registered meeting whilst affected by a prohibited substance, to wit cobalt.
Shortly after the disqualification took effect the Racing Integrity Commissioner Ross Barnett determined an internal review application Scott had made in relation to the matter, and upheld the original decision of the stewards that he employed.
The crucial issue relating to Barnett’s unfitness to hold office is contained in paragraph one of his published decision, in which he found that the swab room at the course had been inspected by the Chief Steward – Farquharson – prior to the commencement of the meeting at which the alleged offence leading to Scott’s disqualification occurred.
The relevant paragraph is reproduced below and may be accessed on the QRIC website at https://www.qric.qld.gov.au/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/FRADD-Robert-Internal-Review-Decision.pdf
In making his determination on the review Barnett relied on the advice of Farquharson that he had indeed inspected the swab room on the day of the race.
On the 20th of October at 3.04pm Barnett became aware that Farquharson had misled both he and Mr Scott in about the inspection, and that the Chief Steward had not in fact inspected the room as he claimed, and could not have as he was on annual leave and not at work at the relevant time.
Barnett took immediate and serious action against Farquharson in relation to his dishonest conduct, first referring him to the CCC for investigation and then later terminating his employment.
One of the stated grounds for the termination was that during a break in the inquiry proceedings a colleague had informed Farquharson that the statement he had made to Mr Scott about inspecting the swab room was false, and that the Chief Steward failed to take any steps to correct the patently untrue information that he had provided to the licensee.
On 20 December – some two months after Barnett had become aware that the information he had based his internal review decision on was wrong – QRIC cut a deal with a battle worn and weary Neale Scott to accept a reduction to the period of his disqualification from 18 months to 9 months, and this period was confirmed by an order of the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT) on that day.
The QCAT order was suppressed from publication on the application of QRIC.
Neale Scott serves his 9 month disqualification and, disillusioned with the injustice meted out to him, has not to date reapplied for his license.
Commissioner Ross Barnett knowingly and willingly permitted Scott’s disqualification to be imposed and served despite knowing that the licensee had been mislead during the inquiry hearing, and that the information contained in his own internal review determination was false.
Barnett has made no attempt to correct the patently untrue information on the public record, did nothing to alert QCAT to the issue, and has made no attempt to overturn the decisions or order a rehearing of the matter.
He has simply hung a long serving and scrupulously honest servant of the sport out to dry.
Barnett’s conduct in this matter has been grossly dishonest, and his actions and failures to act in regard to his knowledge of the false and misleading statements made to Neale Scott, sworn into evidence and entered into the public record is absolutely deplorable, and far from ethical by any reasonable read.
How can anyone in the racing industry ever trust this man again?
This is the person who holds the highest office in Racing Integrity in the State, who in sacking Farquharson pompously declared that the steward of 30 years standing was unfit to hold office in large part because he failed to correct a lie when a colleague called him out on it, and here Barnett is doing exactly the same thing.
There are no shades of grey about this issue, only black and white.
Barnett has demonstrably breached the standards that he not only set internally for his QRIC staff, but that he has sworn into evidence in a duly constituted tribunal of law.
There can be no excuse for his conduct, and there is none.
Judge not lest ye be judged Jesus famously implored, but Barnett ignored him.
Now his own time to be judged has come.
By what he has writ, so he shall be hung.
Ross Barnett must resign or be sacked.
The integrity of racing depends upon it.