Alastair Clarkson has arrived for his first day as coach at North Melbourne, only hours after the Hawthorn racism scandal took a shock new twist on Wednesday.
Clarkson, who stepped away from the Kangaroos after allegations he was involved in shocking claims of mistreatment of First Nations players during his premiership-winning time at the Hawks, fronted the media as he walked into Arden Street.
He once again reiterated his strong stance that he, and those caught up in the allegations including Lions coach Chris Fagan, will vigorously defend themselves.
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“Chris, Jason (Burt) and myself have gone through a tough four weeks without a doubt,” Clarkson said.
“We’re pleased the Terms of Reference (ToR) have been stamped by the AFL. We wait for information from the AFL when that (investigation) will all commence.
“(I’m) looking forward to the chance to contribute to that. In the meantime, get on with what we need to do here.
“Chris and I have been around the game for a long period of time. It’s a matter of compartmentalising things.
AFL backs Fagan and Clarkson return | 01:40
“Obviously the investigation will take our most significant priority over the course of the next five or six weeks – or however long it takes.
“(North has) worked pretty well without me the last four or five weeks. I’m sure they’ll do the same (during the investigation). I’ll come in and out of the program as seen fit. The number one priority will be to contribute to that investigation.”
Clarkson’s comments came a short time after Marque Lawyers, acting on behalf of ‘Amy’ – the ex-partner of an Indigenous Hawks footballer who alleges the club forced her partner to leave her and tell her to have an abortion, confirmed she would not take part in the AFL’s investigation.
“Through us, Amy raised significant concerns regarding the investigation with the AFL and asked for major changes, only some of which were incorporated into the final ToR,” the statement read.
“Several fundamental concerns were ignored, and Amy was given only two days to consider the ToR before the AFL publicly launched the investigation, leaving her no choice but to not participate in the process. To underline the lack of real consultation, the final ToR released by the AFL are materially different from the version provided to Amy two days earlier.”
Amy’s lawyers state she is concerned “it is not an independent investigation” as an “external body with appropriate expertise” was not selected, and was alarmed it was a rushed process.
“Instead, the AFL’s own lawyers are assisting the investigation panel and corresponding with parties on its behalf,” the statement read.
“The AFL, Hawthorn and those who are alleged to have engaged in inappropriate conduct are all reported as welcoming this move (to push on with the ToR). They have gone back to business as usual, including Alastair Clarkson and Chris Fagan being returned to their coaching posts.
Panel appointed to investigate Hawks | 01:38
“For Amy, it is not business as usual.
“The findings of the Hawthorn Cultural Safety Review have forced Amy to relive her own trauma, while also revealing to her the scale of the mistreatment of other First Nations players and their families. Amy has had to work through the guilt she feels at having stayed silent back then; that perhaps, had she said something, she could have prevented it happening to others.
“In refusing to participate in this unsafe process (the AFL investigation), Amy is refusing to consent to the silencing tactics of the AFL.”
Clarkson said while he was commencing his new role as coach of North Melbourne, the investigation remained his “priority”.
“At the minute they are just allegations and we’re going to defend ourselves pretty strongly in the investigation,” he said.
“Like anyone in this world, until the allegations are proven you should be able to get on and live your life.
“All we do know is that there has been three or four clubs in the competition over the last 20 years that have been really, really strong clubs and really, really successful clubs. Those clubs have all had magnificent cultures and Hawthorn has been one of those.
“I’d be very, very surprised if we weren’t able to put a really strong case forward that these allegations have been reported in a different way than we saw them when we were at the club.
“I just really want to get through the investigation with the AFL. It’s been a tough four or five weeks for all of us. What we do know is we always had the care of our players right at the highest priority of our football club.
“There’s a lot more depth and history to what’s transpired but we’ll get a chance in the investigation to outline that.”
Story Credit: foxsports.com.au