The former head of a prestigious race club has launched a court challenge after being stood down.
Colleen Walker has taken NSW Racing to court after she was stood down from the track in March 2021.
Mrs Walker is adamant the regulator does not have the power to make her resign.
The former Mudgee Race Club chairwoman wants the direction against her declared “invalid and of no effect”.
Her lawyer Martin Einfeld QC told the Supreme Court on Friday the racing body’s move to suspend the club and get Mrs Walker to stand down was a “flawed” process.
Camera IconColleen Walker has taking NSW Racing to court over her removal as chair from the Mudgee Race Club. Credit: News Corp Australia
The organisation sent a letter on March 22 telling Mudgee Race Club it was suspended but the ban would be lifted if the chairwoman stepped down.
“The club was left with no choice,” Mr Einfield said.
“If it wanted the suspension lifted it had to accept that condition because Racing NSW said that was the only condition upon which it would lift the suspension.”
He said the process to suspend her was “flawed” and did not follow the mandatory protocol, which meant the subsequent removal of Mrs Walker was “invalid”.
“The process was flawed including the condition it imposed of banning Mrs Walker from participation from the club,” Mr Einfeld said.
Camera IconNSW Racing lawyer Bret Walker SC said the former Mudgee Race Club chairwoman was given “Hobson’s choice” about being stood down. Credit: News Corp Australia
But NSW Racing’s lawyer Bret Walker SC said it did have the power to suspend the club until the removal of the chair.
Mr Walker described it as an “obvious and salutary power” for a regulator to have.
He said Mrs Walker voluntarily stood down and wasn’t forced to leave after the letter from NSW Racing was sent.
“She may have been given Hobson’s choice but that’s the stuff of life,” Mr Walker told the court.
He said Mudgee Race Club did not oppose the move and it was not a direction but rather a choice.
“The club had a choice — no doubt a pretty easy one — as to whether they would suffer a suspension until the chair had come to the end of an adjudication of the allegations against her or dispense with her good offices for the time being so that the suspension may be lifted.”
Associate Justice Joanne Harrison reserved her decision and told parties it would “take quite some time”.Internet Explorer Channel Network