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Former MEP makes 'cover-up' claim against horseracing board CEO


Avril Doyle made the claim in a case at the High Court

Avril Doyle made the claim in a case at the High Court

Avril Doyle made the claim in a case at the High Court

Former MEP Avril Doyle has accused the chief executive of the Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board (IHRB) Denis Egan of engaging in "a cover-up" in relation to the controversial inspection of her daughter's yard.

Ms Doyle made the allegation while giving evidence in a High Court defamation case, which has its roots in the inspection of her horse trainer daughter Liz's premises.

IHRB head of security Chris Gordon is suing the Irish Racehorse Trainers Association (IRTA) for defamation over a letter about his role in the inspection of the yard in March 2014. He also claims he was defamed when IRTA chairman Noel Meade later said in a newspaper interview that members were angered by the conduct of some officials during inspections.

Mr Gordon was part of a team from the IHRB and the Department of Agriculture who went to Liz Doyle's yard in Kitestown, Co Wexford.

The court has heard the inspection arose out of the discovery of a lodgement document during an investigation into John Hughes, a retired department vet who was convicted of possession of 6kg of a drug called Nitrotain.

The initials LD were found beside the €200 lodgement.

Liz Doyle has denied this was a reference to her, and this was quickly accepted by the IHRB.

But giving evidence yesterday, her mother said during the inspection, Mr Gordon had said Liz Doyle, rather than just the initials LD, had been found on the lodgement.

The court has previously heard Mr Egan wrote Liz Doyle's name in the margin, followed by a question mark, but Mr Gordon did not know this at the time.

Ms Doyle said she was shocked when this was put to her daughter as Mr Hughes was "the last person" she would have dealings with.

The former MEP claimed "an old Garda trick" was used to attempt to entrap her daughter into an admission of buying performance-enhancers.

Ms Doyle said she was not given a copy of the lodgement to photocopy, but her daughter was presented with one the following month at Fairyhouse by IHRB deputy head of security Declan Buckley.

However, the Doyles say the document produced at Fairyhouse was different from the one they saw at the inspection. In her evidence, Ms Doyle said she believed Mr Buckley was "protecting" Chris Gordon and Denis Egan.

"He was doing what he was told. He was covering for his superiors," she alleged.

Under cross-examination from Tom Hogan SC for Mr Gordon, Ms Doyle agreed that she was suggesting Mr Egan was engaged in a cover-up.

"Yes. And I stand over those words very clearly," she said.

Her allegations have been denied. The case, which has been ongoing since February 4, continues before Mr Justice Bernard Barton and a jury.

Irish Independent