Ipswich: Chopra will not appear at race-fixing inquiry because he can not afford legal fees

Town striker Michael Chopra today said he will not attend a race-fixing inquiry because he does not have �50,000 to pay for a lawyer.

The former Sunderland and Cardiff forward is one of nine people to be charged by the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) with alleged breaches of the rules of racing.

The charges are due to be heard at a two-week inquiry, which is due to begin on Monday at the BHA headquarters in High Holborn, London.

Chopra is alleged to have conspired with Nottingham Forest midfielder James Coppinger, 31, former Manchester United and England under-21 international Mark Wilson, 33, currently unattached, and jockey Andrew Heffernan, 24, to fix races.

Chopra, Wilson and Coppinger are all charged with conspiring to “commit a corrupt or fraudulent practice” under the rules of racing.

Chopra’s former agent Yogesh Joshee is also among those facing accusations.

Chopra issued a statement today in which he said he will not be attending the inquiry.

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It read: “My legal advisors, having engaged with the British Horseracing Authority, have been advised that even if I’m found innocent of the charges, the British Horseracing Authority will not refund my legal fees, which I have been advised would be at least �50,000 for being represented at the inquiry.

“I have extensive debts and loans and simply cannot afford the amount of money necessary to clear my name, with no prospects of ever recovering my costs.

“I am not a member of the British Horseracing Authority and not subject to its Rules. I have been advised that the British Horseracing Authority is only allowed under its Rules to take disciplinary action against a person who is subject to those Rules, which does not include me.

“Furthermore, I understand that the only sanction that the British Horseracing Authority could impose on me is to ban me from racecourses and gambling establishments licensed by it.

“It is well publicised that I have a gambling addiction problem and I see any such sanctions as being a useful mechanism in helping me to address these problems.

“As of this year, I’ve voluntarily self-excluded myself from all betting institutions from where I live in Ipswich in order to help me fight this illness.

“For the above reasons, I have decided not to present myself to the BHA enquiry.

“I will be making no further comment on this matter at this stage.”