Time to say goodbye
RACING POST IN THE FINAL PART OF A WEEK-LONG RETIREMENT SPECIAL CELEBRATING THE WORK OF OUR STAR WRITER DAVID ASHFORTH, WE REPRINT HIS MEMORABLE ACCOUNT OF EVENTS IN COURT 12 OF THE OLD BAILEY ON OCTOBER 12 2007, DURING THE KIEREN FALLON TRIAL
OCTOBER 12, 2007
J. Margaret Clarke, Turfcall
ACCOMPANIED by a fantastic photograph, that in itself speaks a million words to a million different people, and more
“KELSEY - FRY'S foot is troubling him. He doesn’t stand up and ask for an adjournment- maybe he can’t. Sound feet are essential to a successful career at the bar. No foot, no barrister”
“THERE were some heated exchanges in Court 12 yesterday, during which the Old Bailey’s temperature controls were found wanting and Mr Justice Forbes revealed himself lukewarm towards air-conditioning units.
‘The temperature in this room seems to be as unpredictable as I am told horseracing can be,’ the judge declares. Kieren Fallon takes off his jacket, but the legal blond next to him does not take off hers. Later, maybe.
“Some people have a talent for looking smart. David O’Reilly, Betfair’s legal advisor returning to the witness box, is one of them. His head, as well as his clothes, looks well tailored. He sits, neat and tidy, hair trimmed, spectacled, his forehead forever threatening to break into a frown, and answers the questions put to him by Jonathan Caplan QC, for the prosecution.
“O’Reilly’s answers are as clipped, concise and precise as his appearance.
“Together, Caplan and O’Reilly crawl their way through the 27 allegedly fixed races. 27 is not a very large number, but in Court 12 it seems enormous; about as large as infinity, but occupying more time.
“Briefly, Caplan chews the end of his spectacles, then puts them on again. He has barely changed since the case opened; a little older, perhaps. He draws the jury’s attention to a chart depicting the betting activities of the accounts used by Miles Rodgers to lay the 27 horses, starting with Legal Set in a race over which, according to O’Reilly, there was ‘quite a bit of noise about the ride given to the horse”.
“Suddenly, a man in the public gallery leaps up and shouts, ‘I backed Legal Set. I want my money back’ before being hustled out. All right, I made that up, to spice things up a bit. If it was the BBC, I expect it would.
“O’Reilly confirms what Caplan suggests, that in many of the races under scrutiny, Rodgers’ bets accounted for a substantial proportion of the total amount laid. There are lists of accounts, and of percentages; there is jury bundle 2, page 211, and ‘Barking Mad, page 258’.
“In every respect, the temperature is falling. ’Speaking for myself,’ says Mr Justice Forbes, who has a nice, wry manner, ’Its not to bad at the moment’. Like Rodgers’ Betfair accounts, the temperature will be monitored.
“There is only one woman among the 17 occupants of the public gallery, and she is about to leave. What does this tell us? That women have something better to do than waist their time listening to men talking about betting?
“Like a Formula One race, this threatens to be a trial that is exciting at the start and perhaps at the end, but involves a lot of going round and round in circles over the same ground in between. I feel like putting my hand up and saying, ‘ I’m 58, could you hurry up please?’
“11.33am. John Kelsey-Fry’s foot troubling him. I think he may have knocked it. He doesn’t stand up and ask for an adjournment – maybe he can’t. It may seem a trivial matter, but sound feet are essential to a successful career at the bar, no foot no barrister.
“It’s all right. Kelsey – Fry’s foot (his right one) seems to have recovered. Fallon won’t have to conduct his own defence, after all.
“Its cooler now. The woman in the public gallery who took all her clothes off earlier has put them back on again.
“At 11.45am, the possibility of introducing air – conditioning units is raised, but Mr Justice Forbes is not a lover of such units. The clerk of the court is on the phone, possibly to a heating engineer. If you are one, it may be worth bidding for a contract.
“Caplan, who started the day wielding a green pen, is now wielding a yellow one. Then he sits down and, after lunch , Peter Kelson QC, for Rodgers, stands up. At 2.43pm, in a throaty voice, he raises the temperature by asking O’Reilly, ‘Do you know Harry Findlay?’ O’Reilly knows of him. ‘Have Betfair ever extended a £1 million credit line to Harry Finley?’ This could be interesting. “If we have, I’m not aware of it,’’ says O’Reilly. The temperature drops again.
“Kelson moves on to challenge the assertion that Rodgers’ Betfair records show he was prepared to offer considerably longer odds against the horses he was laying than anyone else. Then, teasingly, Kelson informs the court that his next topic ‘involves the name of Manning’, Detective Inspector Manning, I presume.”
* Sorry, I was lying
THE LIFE AND THE TIMES OF DAVID ASHFORTH
A sharp brain a steady hand, a master craftsman who grasped
the power of the pen with compassion.