Brisbane Lions coach Chris Fagan says he is “vindicated” by the AFL’s investigation into allegations of historic racism at Hawthorn ending with no findings made against him, Alastair Clarkson or Jason Burt.
The AFL declared on Tuesday night it had struck an agreement between all parties – not involving a financial aspect – to end the probe after eight months.
Fagan, Clarkson and Burt have maintained their innocence throughout the investigation.
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On Tuesday night, shortly after the AFL’s press conference to announce the agreement, Fagan released a statement.
He labelled the process a “travesty of justice” and one that had caused “tremendous hurt to me, those who care about me, and other people whom I known to be innocent of wrongdoing”.
“I have always categorically denied all of the allegations against me,” he wrote.
“The allegations are false. I am completely innocent. I have never deviated from that position as I knew from the beginning that the allegations were false.”
Fagan said he would also welcome court action to allow for more transparency, which could yet still occur given the Hawthorn families at the centre of the investigation are likely to take their case to the Australian Human Rights Commission.
He said he would be “happy for any of my conduct and any documents to be aired publicly in a public court or proper public process” in order to “let someone impartial decide what is true and what is false”.
Fagan’s former Hawthorn colleague Alastair Clarkson remains on indefinite personal leave, citing the mental and physical toll of the investigation.
“I have from the start received countless messages of support, including from very many First Nations players I coached at Hawthorn, Melbourne and now at the Brisbane Lions,” Fagan wrote.
“I wish to take the opportunity to thank all of the people who have supported me. The investigation has taken a very damaging toll on my family and me, and the many people involved in the investigation.
“I am glad that it has finally been brought to an end.”
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FULL CHRIS FAGAN STATEMENT
I refer to the public statement issued tonight by the AFL concerning the Hawthorn investigation.
The investigation has now been terminated, with the agreement of the complainants and the investigation panel. It is right that this should occur. It is long overdue.
I have maintained my public silence on the issues raised publicly because I was bound to confidentiality by the rules of the AFL investigation. It has been a very distressing several months for me since these allegations were first published by the ABC without the investigation that was conducted having asked for my version of events.
I am innocent of any of the allegations made against me and always have been.
I have been in footy for a long time – most of my life. In that time I have had the interests of the welfare of my players as my foremost consideration. I have treated all players with equality and fairness.
I have always respected the tremendous contribution that First Nations people have made to our game and I respect them greatly. I always have. I always will. And I am conscious that this farce of a process cannot have been easy on those First Nations people who were complainants. Those whom I knew, I hold no grudges against and hold only a wish that whatever pain they are suffering can be healed over time.
The combination of the AFL investigation, the ABC article that was published making very serious allegations against me, and the leaks that have occurred to the press, have amounted to a travesty of justice. It has caused tremendous hurt to me, those who care about me, and other people whom I know to be innocent of wrongdoing, such as Clarko and Jason Burt. These are fine men and they have been publicly shamed by false allegations.
The complainants, the investigation panel and the AFL have agreed that no adverse findings have been made against me, Alastair Clarkson and Jason Burt, and that no charges will be brought against any of us under the AFL Rules. It has been further agreed by the complainants, the panel and the AFL that the matters the subject of the investigation will not be investigated further by the panel.
These matters are also fully justified. I have always categorically denied all of the allegations against me. The allegations are false. I am completely innocent. I have never deviated from that position as I knew from the beginning that the allegations were false. I have never had my chance to publicise my position on the allegations that the ABC chose to air publicly.
Prior to the agreement referred to above being reached, the documents held by Hawthorn that the complainants had refused to release to me were released to me, very recently, with their consent. Those same documents were in the possession of both the investigation panel and the AFL for consideration by those parties for a significant time prior to their release to me. I am bound by a confidentiality deed not to disclose the contents of the documents. But I can say that they support the categorical denials of the allegations against me that I have stated from the outset. I can also say that for my part, I would be completely happy for all of these documents to be made public.
I am happy for any of my conduct and any documents to be aired publicly in a public court or proper public process and let someone impartial decide what is true and what is false.
I am not a party to the agreement between the complainants, the investigation panel and the AFL. But I stand vindicated by it.
I have made no concessions. There are none to make. I have always vigorously defended myself, and will always do so, as I have done nothing wrong.
I am proud of my record, built up over four decades, of nourishing not just the football careers but also the lives of the young people I have coached. This includes all of the First Nations players I have been fortunate enough to coach.
I have from the start received countless messages of support, including from very many First Nations players I coached at Hawthorn, Melbourne and now at the Brisbane Lions. I wish to take the opportunity to thank all of the people who have supported me. The investigation has taken a very damaging toll on my family and me, and the many people involved in the investigation. I am glad that it has finally been brought to an end.
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