Prominent Auckland businessman Leo Molloy has been fined $15,000 and banned from the racing industry for one year after calling a senior racing official a "racist ****" online.
Molloy yesterday fronted a Judicial Control Authority hearing at Ellerslie Racecourse for a comment he made in an online forum about Neil Grimstone - a senior official in the New Zealand Racing Integrity Unit (RIU).
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Molloy was charged with calling Grimstone a "callous racist ****" on the Race Cafe forum on March 13.
The RUI took Molloy to the Judicial Control Authority for breaking the 'insulting and abusive conduct' clause of the Rules of New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing Inc.
Following a three-hour hearing yesterday morning, Molloy was fined $5000, and ordered to pay $7000 to RIU and $3000 to the Judicial Control Authority, to cover its legal costs.
The 63-year-old owner of Auckland restaurant Headquarters was also banned from attending any New Zealand race meetings - or competing in them as an owner or trainer - for one year.
"It is what it is. I'm not greatly bothered," Molloy told the Herald.
Molloy has part ownership in only one racehorse now, but was an apprentice jockey as a teenager and spent many years training racehorses in the 2000s.
Yesterday morning, the Judicial Control Authority for racing excluded the Herald from attending the hearing - as well as around half-a-dozen of Molloy's friends and supporters.
Molloy represented himself at the hearing and the RIU was represented by Meredith Connell barristers Steve Symon and Emma Smith.
The case was heard by Hon Warwick Gendall QC as chairman and Noel McCutcheon.
Judicial Control Authority executive officer Catherine Hutton said the hearing was conducted in private because they were concerned Molloy would use it inappropriately as a forum to espouse his views.
"He had already been warned in a Minute from the Judicial Committee that he would not be permitted to use the hearing as a 'platform' or to facilitate a party 'having some fun'," Hutton said.
Hutton said Molloy engaged in an argument with QC Grendall that he should remove himself as judge before proceedings began.
"There was a brief pre-trial argument about whether Mr Gendall should recuse himself. He declined to do so," Hutton said.
RIU general manager Mike Godber said the result of the hearing and the penalty were "in the area that we were asking for".
"We were asking for a little bit more, but not a lot more. So we have no difficulty with the decision," Godber said.
Friend and Auckland racing trainer Kevin Morton was among those excluded from the hearing.
"I just think it was unjust that he was even charged, but it is what it is," Morton said.
"I don't think the public should have been unable to hear it, so you can hear both sides of the argument. They should have put it on their website that it would be a private hearing."
The RIU is an independent organisation responsible for overseeing integrity issues within the three New Zealand racing codes - harness, thoroughbred and greyhound.