Cheltenham granted permanent ban on touts by High Court

Cheltenham racecourse has been granted a permanent High Court injunction banning ticket touts from the track.

Jockey Club Racecourses (JCR) was given a temporary injunction in October, and returned to court on Tuesday to make the ban permanent.

Giving judgment in London, Judge Penelope Reed QC ruled that the interim injunction “ought to be made final”.

She said the temporary injunction had been effective in “almost eradicating” touts from Cheltenham.

She added that touts “have been involved in violent incidents and non-violent anti-social behaviour”, and referred to evidence from local police that “touts and those who control them are often engaged in money laundering”.

Judge Reed concluded: “I am satisfied that the ticket touts operating at Cheltenham racecourse are trespassers and therefore the claimant is entitled to have the interim injunction made permanent.”

Speaking outside court, Ian Renton, JCR’s south west regional director, welcomed the judgment.

He told the Press Association: “In the last two years, the biggest complaint we had from our racegoers was the nuisance caused by touts, so to have actually removed the nuisance is great for us.”

Mr Renton added that he was “sure” other racecourses and sporting bodies would consider following suit.

“Certainly other racecourses are looking at the actions we have taken, and we had other sporting bodies down during the festival to look at how it was progressing with us,” he said.

JCR’s barrister John Steel QC earlier told the court that the interim injunction had a “quite remarkable” effect during last month’s Cheltenham Festival.

He said there would usually be as many as 150 touts active each day of the festival.

He added: “The number of touts that were viewed by both Mr Renton and also other officials at Cheltenham was down to fewer than a handful and, literally, on some days during the festival there were none on the racecourse itself.”

He submitted that the cost of touting to JCR across all its racecourses is “estimated to be between £1 million and £1.5 million per year, none of which is recoverable”.

He also said Gloucestershire Constabulary and Cheltenham Borough Council were “fully supportive of the applications being made today”, and had been “pleasantly surprised” by the effectiveness of the temporary injunction.

Mr Steel added that the “general racing community, as well as the sporting community, will be very interested in this judgment”.