Independent Review of the Greyhound Racing Industry chaired by Lord Donoughue (2007)

Report by Martin Humphery, Trustee, Greyhounds in Need

The long-awaited report from the Independent Review of the Greyhound Racing Industry chaired by Lord Donoughue, was published on the 27th November 2007.

The report is a thoroughgoing examination of all aspects of the “sport” and makes a number of important recommendations. The enquiry was set up by the British Greyhound Racing Board (BGRB) and the National Greyhound Racing Club (NGRC) and has the backing of the government. It is now for the industry to decide whether or not to adopt the Report and to put its recommendations into practice.

Since Donoughue makes it clear that failure by the industry to implement his recommendations would result in governmental control, it seems certain that it will be adopted. The Greyhound Forum discussed the report on 12th December. Whilst both sides (industry and welfare) need more time to digest the details of a document stretching to 150 pages, the general feeling seemed to be that the Review had done a thorough job and that it contained much of worth.

However, our main concern is that Donoughue has perpetuated the industry’s regime of self-regulation. This is something all the welfare representatives have always opposed. It seems certain that self-regulation will continue, but in a climate of some degree of increased independent oversight. Although this battle has been lost, it will be important that the welfare groups make their position quite clear. The general animal welfare situation should also be improved to some degree by the passage of the Animals Act, which now places a “duty of care” on anyone in charge of an animal to ensure its health and well-being.

Donoughue’s central proposal is that both BGRB and NGRC should be swept away and their place taken by a new regulatory board with an increased independent content. The details of this set up are too complex to be discussed here, but our worry is that the Report recommends that all the existing staffs of the old bodies should form the new staff. Since these people have been found, by the Donoughue enquiry itself, to have failed lamentably to ensure a proper standard of animal welfare and to have forfeited the confidence of the public and of Parliament, we deplore any such an arrangement. We consider it essential that all posts in the new organisation should be open to competing application from existing employees and outsiders equally. In addition, the senior positions should be filled by new people with new ideas.

Although we intend to put our concerns forward as forcefully as we can, I have to tell you that the “official line” is that the report is now signed off and will not be changed. It is intended to be adopted or rejected as a whole.

To summarise; my feeling is that the Donoughue Review has let much-needed light into the somewhat secretive workings of the industry and has laid down several desirable welfare principles, but that the main outcome is disappointing from our point of view.

To view the full report please go online at