JUST over a week after a Greyhound Racing NSW released its findings stating there was no evidence of misconduct in relation to animal welfare at the Keinbah Trial Track, leading Sydney barrister Clive Steirn SC has been appointed to lead an independent review of the inquiry into whether any false or misleading statements were put forward as evidence.
The inquiry, which called upon 14 witnesses, focused on discovering what incidents may have happened at the track and rumours of a mass greyhound grave on the site.
At the conclusion of the inquiry, while GRNSW did not dispute the likely presence of greyhound remains on the Hunter Valley property, the governing body decided not to excavate the site as there was said to be no evidence of animal cruelty.
Following the result of the inquiry, current Keinbah track owners, Robert and Natina Howard, chose to take matters into their own hands, personally excavating the site where two complete skulls, 15 jaw bones and a pile of bones were found.
Based on the Howard’s new findings, Steirn will be tasked with recommending what, if any, further steps or inquiries need to be held in relation to the track and what may have occurred at the property.
The discovery of the skeletal remains has sparked outrage from certain sectors of the industry and community, including from Greens NSW MP John Kaye, who has been vocal about many of the welfare issues facing the sport.
“Just one week after the industry regulator’s inquiry found there was no need to excavate at the training facility at least one mass grave has been uncovered,” Kaye said.
“Greyhound Racing NSW’s inquiry ignored the current owner’s concerns and found there was no reason to further investigate.
“The industry’s inquiry has been exposed as a complete farce.”
Kaye said the announcement of Steirn’s appointment is a step in the right direction for the industry.
“Greyhound racing has at last done the right thing by bringing in independent expertise.
“This inquiry, unlike its predecessor, needs to be open and accountable and it needs to rely on forensic experts.
“It needs to make sure that the community is engaged in its liberations.
“Another behind-closed-doors stitch-up job would be a disaster.”
GRNSW have announced that Steirn will also have access to appropriate experts, such as a veterinary pathologist, if required.
GRNSW Interim CEO Paul Newson said that, while they had not received any substantial evidence of animal cruelty or breaches of the racing rules, the organisation is dedicated to ensuring and any claims are investigated.
“Media coverage in recent days indicates that witnesses who appeared at the GRNSW inquiry into the Keinbah Trial Track may have provided false or misleading evidence”, Newson explained.
“Given this information, GRNSW has taken immediate steps to engage an independent barrister, Clive Steirn SC, to investigate these allegations.
“To date, GRNSW has not been provided with any credible evidence to substantiate claims of animal cruelty, or breaches of the Greyhound Racing Rules, relating to the operation and management of the Keinbah Trial Track.
“GRNSW has provided all relevant information to appropriate enforcement bodies, including RSPCA NSW and the NSW Police, for their attention. GRNSW will continue to provide relevant information to enforcement agencies if and when it comes to light.
“If GRNSW obtains credible evidence which indicates there may have been a breach of the Greyhound Racing Rules or animal welfare laws, swift action is taken within its limited powers to address those allegations.
“I again encourage anyone with credible evidence of misconduct or animal welfare offences that occurred at the Keinbah Trial Track to come forward.
“GRNSW will not tolerate animal cruelty within the greyhound racing industry and will continue to investigate allegations about animal cruelty or misconduct associated with the sport.”