Second Panorama racing investigation 'a possibility'

Investigation: Buffham, left, aided BBC’s Davies

Panorama is considering a second investigation into alleged corruption in horseracing after the programme drew one of the biggest audiences since it moved to the Sunday slot.

Up to 3.9 million viewers tuned into "The Corruption of Horseracing", which has been the focus of press speculation since the Panorama team began the investigation in April.

A BBC spokesman confirmed that a second programme was "a possibility" after Stephen Scott, the programme’s producer, told BBC Radio Five Live on Monday that he would consider making another.

Scott added that the investigation was "only the tip of the iceberg" and he had received a number of phonecalls offering further information about alleged race fixing and corruption.

Stalled for a number of months when the Jockey Club went to the High Court to prevent it using material obtained by its former security chief Roger Buffham, the programme was due to be broadcast as part of an earlier Panorama series.

When it finally went on air, viewing figures were among the highest the programme has attracted since the BBC moved its flagship current affairs programme from its traditional peak time Monday slot in January last year. Programmes on Afghanistan and last year’s floods attracted bigger audiences.

Andy Davies, the Panorama journalist who worked on the extended programme, said it became "the most talked about documentary in the history of horseracing" before it even went on air.

"It was such a well-discussed documentary, which says more about the paranoia that exists in the racing world," said Davies. "The industry closed ranks as soon as we started the investigation and there was a lot of hostility even before we started filming."

Davies, who confronted new Jockey Club security chief Jeremy Phipps with a transcript of a secretly recorded conversation with Buffham, dismissed claims made by the body since Sunday that the programme’s findings were "innocuous".

"If that’s the case, why did it go to so much trouble to get it stopped at the High Court?" he asked. "We’ve had extremely positive feedback from the programme and there seems to be a growing consensus that there has to be increased security and a change of culture within the Jockey Club."

By Julie Tomlin

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