British racing’s largest commercial operator and employer said it had been forced to take legal action because protesters from Animal Rising continue to make it “explicitly clear” that they intend to breach security at the Surrey racecourse to stage a disruptive protest, which threatens to compromise the safety of equine and human participants and all racegoers.
The injunction, which was granted by High Court judge Sir Anthony Mann, prohibits individuals from entering onto the racetrack and carrying out other acts with the intention and/or effect of disrupting the races. Such acts include intentionally causing objects to enter the racetrack, entering the parade ring, entering and/or remaining on the horses’ route to the parade ring and to the racetrack without authorisation, and intentionally endangering any person at Epsom Downs Racecourse during the Derby Festival, which takes place on Friday 2nd and Saturday 3rd June.
Individuals acting in breach of the court order could now be subject to proceedings for contempt of court, which may lead to a fine and/or imprisonment.
After the hearing The Jockey Club said the injunction would in no way threaten the right of anyone to express their views in a peaceful and law-abiding way and that the racecourse has offered Animal Rising an area near the entrance of the racecourse specifically for this purpose on Derby Day (Saturday 3rd June).
The Jockey Club’s Chief Executive, Nevin Truesdale, said: “Our number one priority will always be to ensure that the safety of all our equine and human participants and racegoers, officials and our own employees is not compromised.
“Animal Rising have repeatedly made it explicitly clear that they intend to break the law and disrupt The Derby Festival and that left us with no choice but to seek this injunction, having consulted with a number of stakeholders including Surrey Police.
“We will never tolerate a repeat of the illegal disruption we saw at Aintree on Grand National Day and we welcome today’s High Court ruling, which provides us with an additional layer of security to combat the threat of such dangerous and reckless behaviour.
“We believe everyone should have the right to peaceful protest and have offered Animal Rising an area near the entrance of Epsom Downs Racecourse to express their views in a law-abiding way. However, anyone who attempts to disrupt the race or compromise the safety of horses or humans will be dealt with robustly by our security teams and the police.
“As such I now urge Animal Rising to abandon any plans to breach security at The Derby Festival and respect the legitimate right of the thousands of people who will join us at Epsom Downs and the millions of people watching at home and around the world to enjoy the sport they love uninterrupted.”
The Jockey Club was represented at the High Court by Alan Maclean KC and Antonia Eklund.
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