Hawthorn racism investigation hits documents impasse
The four-person panel investigating Hawthorn racism allegations hope progress can be made through mediation, revealing there's an impasse over a request for documents.
A statement from investigation chairman Bernard Quinn KC, released to media on Wednesday night, has given some details about the saga.
Quinn chairs the panel commissioned by the AFL last October to investigate bombshell claims of racism at Hawthorn.
Four-time Hawthorn premiership coach Alastair Clarkson, Chris Fagan and Jason Burt have been named as figures involved in an alleged episode of racism during their time at the club.
All deny any wrongdoing.
Clarkson now coaches North Melbourne, Fagan coaches Brisbane while Burt is also no longer at Hawthorn.
The AFL initially hoped the independent investigation would report its findings last December, but Quinn gave no indication in his statement when that might happen.
"To date, significant progress has been made, although not always at the pace that we, or the various stakeholders, would prefer," Quinn said, adding the panel has no power to set deadlines.
Quinn said the panel was trying to coordinate a mediation, in tandem with the investigation, after a request from some people involved.
He stressed no specific conditions had been placed on the mediation, contrary to media reports over the weekend.
Those reports prompted Fagan to release a statement on Sunday, saying he would only agree to mediation "in good faith", and without the 18 demands listed in media reports.
Quinn said the panel had appointed Kate Eastman SC and former Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, Mick Gooda, as co-mediators.
"The panel sincerely hopes a mediation of the matters presently being investigated can lead to a resolution of issues between participants," Quinn said.
He added complainants had objected to the investigation sharing documents with other people involved in the investigation.
"Relevant documents concerning participants who have made complaints against (Hawthorn) and its previous coaches and officers have been provided to those participants' lawyers," Quinn said.
"Those participants have been asked to identify documents which they object to providing to other participants because they contain personal, sensitive or private information protected from disclosure by relevant privacy and related laws.
"The Panel was recently informed by these participants that they do not agree to the provision of any of these documents to any other participants prior to mediation.
"This objection was made on the basis that the production of documents at this time prejudices the prospects of successful mediation."
Quinn added other documents not subject to privacy concerns had been shared.
He also revealed the panel had asked for 37,000 documents from Hawthorn earlier this year and it would be finalised in the next couple of days.
Quinn explained: "Former HFC coaches participating in the investigation sought to be provided with relevant documents before they could meaningfully engage with the investigation."
He also confirmed the panel had received a request to be interviewed by any former Hawthorn coach or staffer taking part in the investigation.
"(The panel) was informed at an early stage that those participants did not wish to be interviewed before they had received relevant documents and had an opportunity to consider them in the preparation of written statements responding to any allegations against them," he said.
Quinn said the panel had conducted multiple interviews and received 20 statements of evidence.