Clarkson slams ‘shameful’ Hawthorn conduct
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North Melbourne coach Alastair Clarkson has exploded over the handling of the eight-month-old independent investigation into allegations of racism at Hawthorn, savaging his former club and the process.
Clarkson, who has not yet been given the chance to provide his evidence to the panel, said it had become “a circus” that denied him and his co-accused, including former Hawks officials Chris Fagan and Jason Burt, any procedural fairness and said either Hawthorn or the AFL needed to take control of the process.
Alastair Clarkson has strongly criticised the independent investigation.Credit: Getty Images
Clarkson, Fagan and Burt have all denied the allegations of historical racism made by a number of former Indigenous players and families.
The attack came the day after The Age published the reasons why the investigation had dragged on for so long, via a statement from lead investigator Bernard Quinn KC. Hawthorn have accessed 37,000 emails and documents as part of the process, but the First Nations ex-players and partners have not agreed to handing over a number of private documents to Clarkson, Fagan and Burt’s legal teams.
The former Hawthorn coach said the probe should turn their attention to the Hawks’ conduct throughout, describing it as “shameful”.
“There is one particular party that is the catalyst for all this that has not been investigated at all their governance and conduct in this whole thing – the Hawthorn Football Club – just shameful,” Clarkson said.
“Let’s do an investigation on them and their practices and see how they go.”
He said that although he was prepared to stick with the process, he had little faith in the investigation.
“The guy who actually establishes the protocol around confidentiality actually breaches [it],” Clarkson claimed.
“The damage is done, reputations have been scarred and we’ve got to somehow just claw our reputations back through this whole process.
“And all we want is a fair platform to be able to do that. Once we get that opportunity, then we’ll let the judge decide.
“That will either be a court of law or the court of public opinion.
“We’ve waited for eight months to get some sort of process going in terms of what you call procedural fairness in terms of the legal game, and the procedural fairness offered to myself, ‘Fages’ and Jason has been next to zero and that’s particularly frustrating.”
Quinn declined to comment on Thursday. Hawthorn have been approached for comment.
Hawthorn handed a cultural safety report containing the allegations to the AFL’s integrity department last year but did not give Clarkson, Fagan and Burt the opportunity to respond before doing so.
Clarkson said he and his family had been “shamed” and all they could hope for now was to claw back some of their damaged reputation. He said being denied a platform for eight months had been challenging and implored the league to take control.
“Someone needs to cut through it all and take ownership of the whole process, whether that is within the Hawthorn Football Club, or the AFL,” Clarkson said.
“Someone from either one of those two bodies needs to take ownership of just what has happened in terms of the governance and the conduct of this whole process and allow us the fair opportunity to tell our story and then let the judge decide. We’re happy to sit in that process.”
Departing AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan has stayed in an attempt to finalise the investigation but told AFL CEOs that the process had become a mess at a recent meeting of clubs.
More to come
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