Police have closed their investigation into ‘disgusting’ rumours that circulated online about former Brisbane Broncos coach Anthony Seibold, despite some high-profile figures being identified as culprits.
Seibold hired lawyers and cyber investigators to look into scurrilous rumours spread about him and his family online in August, just before he quit as Brisbane coach.
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According to the Sydney Morning Herald, “a former Kangaroos player and a former first-grade referee” were identified by police as people of interest before the case was closed.
“The former Australian representative is not currently a registered NRL participant, meaning the integrity unit couldn't compel him to be interviewed. However, he remains a well-known figure well into his retirement,” the Herald reports.
Cybercrime experts hired by Seibold also reportedly identified a former NRL referee as someone with links to the original rumours.
But police told the Herald: “Following extensive inquiries, which included speaking with a person who circulated some of the messages, the investigation has concluded. No further police action will be taken.”
According to The Australian, NSW Police spoke to someone responsible for circulating the rumours, but it wasn’t within their powers to lay charges.
Under the current law, police were powerless because there was no threat of violence towards Seibold or his family.
In an interview with 60 Minutes earlier this month, Seibold said investigators had also identified an employee of NSW Rugby League.
“It's someone who makes a living from our game who is part of the conversation and added to the rumours and forwarded them on,” Seibold told 60 Minutes.
“That’s what is so ironic about all of this. I can't sit here and tell you these names because essentially 60 Minutes could be charged. It's crazy.”
Seibold detailed how the ‘disgusting’ rumours had hurt him most given comments made about his family, but said he could not publicly out anyone behind them.
NSWRL boss hits back at 60 minutes claim
NSWRL boss David Trodden later said he is confident none his full-time employees were behind the vicious social media campaign.
Trodden was shocked when the 60 Minutes report claimed the NRL integrity unit had been told a NSWRL employee was involved.
Trodden was desperate to investigate the matter himself, calling the NRL before speaking with Seibold's representatives.
“While the various parties are unable to provide the identity of the person involved because of ongoing police investigations, I am confident that the person is not a full-time employee of NSWRL,” Trodden said.
The person named in the report is an employee of NSW Rugby League. Anthony Seibold has handed the findings to police as well as the NRL’s integrity unit, but at this stage, no one has faced any consequences for spreading such vicious lies. #60Mins pic.twitter.com/NuTLFf7jcD
— 60 Minutes Australia (@60Mins) October 11, 2020
“Trolling is appalling ... and action should be taken if it is properly proven.
“It should never be tolerated and we feel for Anthony Seibold and his family for what he has been put through.
“Equally, it is really important for me, as CEO of NSWRL, to make it clear that none of our employees are involved in the alleged behaviour.”
The NSWRL employees 93 people, and Trodden feared at this stage all had been implicated by the public claims and tarred with the same brush.
“I was totally surprised to hear what was said and disappointed that serious allegations like that would appear when we knew nothing of them,” Trodden told AAP.
“They are really serious issues that need to be taken seriously ad investigated and dealt with properly.”
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