CHRIS Gordon has won his long-running defamation case against the Irish Racehorse Trainers Association (IRTA) in the High Court.
After seven weeks of hearing evidence, the jury deliberated for just a few hours on Wednesday before returning a unanimous verdict in favour of the Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board’s (IHRB) head of security. Gordon was awarded €300,000 in damages.
No ruling has yet been given on costs, which will comfortably exceed €1 million.
The case stemmed for a series of stableyard inspections in 2014, conducted jointly by the IHRB and officials from the Department of Agriculture. The IRTA formally complained to Gordon’s employer over how the inspections were conducted, particularly in relation to the inspection of Liz Doyle’s yard where it was alleged that Gordon tried to entrap the trainer into admitting she had dealings with John Hughes, who had earlier been found in possession of anabolic steroids.
Gordon also claimed that trainer and IRTA chairman Noel Meade had defamed him in an article published in The Irish Field in that year.
In total there were six counts of defamation put before the jury and they found in favour of the plaintiff in five of them.
Leaving the courtroom, an emotional Gordon said: “I’m just happy it’s over. The past six years have been a nightmare. It has taken a huge personal toll on me and my family. It’s an absolute shame it had to come this far. There was no need for it.”
Asked if he intended to continue in his IHRB role, Gordon said: “Why shouldn’t I? I have done nothing wrong and I have been completely vindicated by the jury. I had no issue with any trainers whatsoever, only the handful of people behind this campaign. My relations with trainers are very good. I have served racing well and I hope to continue to do that.”
He added: “The way in which I have been treated by particular figures in the racing industry, who sided with the trainers, needs to be examined.”
Michael Grassick, CEO of the IRTA was in court to hear the verdict and declined to comment until after he had spoken with his legal team. Counsel for the IRTA had earlier indicated to Justice Bernard Barton that there would be an appeal.
MORE ON THIS STORY IN THE IRISH FIELD NEXT WEEKEND