No findings against Hawthorn trio in AFL deal to end investigation

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The AFL has reached an agreement with families involved in the allegations of historical racism at Hawthorn, and has made no findings against Alastair Clarkson, Chris Fagan and Jason Burt.

Sources involved in negotiations said a deal was reached on Tuesday and the investigation by the AFL’s independent panel, chaired by Bernard Quinn KC, would be wound up.

Alastair Clarkson and Chris Fagan, pictured in 2015 when at Hawthorn, have denied any wrongdoing.Credit: AFL Photos

The trio were accused of mistreating First Nations players, allegations they strenuously deny.

The AFL is expected to make an apology and introduce measures to improve the environment for Indigenous players at clubs.

A memo went to AFL presidents on Tuesday night advising them of a briefing by AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan.

McLachlan will front the media at 7.45pm on Tuesday.

The deal comes eight months after the ABC published a story containing interviews with First Nations players who had taken part in a “cultural safety review” commissioned by the Hawks.

The review was sparked by an interview in The Age in April last year with Hawks champion Cyril Rioli and his wife, Shannyn Ah Sam-Rioli, in which they said they were poorly treated during Cyril’s playing career, and in which Shannyn said she was “belittled and humiliated”.

Clarkson and Fagan strenuously denied all allegations in the ABC story and have said they look forward to clearing their names. Clarkson recently took indefinite leave from his role as North Melbourne senior coach due to mental health reasons from the toll of the Hawthorn inquiry.

In an earlier statement, Clarkson said: “I was not afforded any due process and I refute any allegation of wrongdoing or misconduct and look forward to the opportunity to be heard as part of the AFL external investigation.”

In a statement when the investigation was announced, the Lions club chair Andrew Wellington said: “We stand by Chris as he commits himself to be part of the AFL investigation, which gives him procedural fairness, into allegations concerning historical events at the Hawthorn Football Club, where he was a former employee. Chris has categorically denied any wrongdoing.”


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