Hawthorn First Nations report: Chris Fagan releases statement after bombshell

Elements of the report into alleged discrimination at Hawthorn have been backed by an assistant coach. Find out the latest here.

Lions coach Chris Fagan joined former Hawthorn coach Alastair Clarkson in vehemently denying the bombshell allegations on Thursday.

Fagan said he was “shocked and deeply distressed by the allegations reported in the media”.

“I deny, categorically, the allegations of wrongdoing by me in relation to First Nations players at the Hawthorn Football Club,” Fagan said in a statement.

“… I intend to defend myself. It is my hope that people will judge me based upon the way I actually conduct myself and not by what is written in the media. I support and welcome the investigation announced by the AFL yesterday. I intend to participate fully in the investigation and look forward to being heard and being accorded due process and fairness.”

Clarkson and Fagan will be interviewed by an independent panel about the claims.

Former Hawthorn development manager Jason Burt is at the center of the allegations from at least three First Nations families.

The claims reportedly allege players were forcibly separated from their partners and had SIM cards in their phones hung to cut off communication.

It’s reportedly alleged Clarkson told one player to terminate his partner’s pregnancy.

Clarkson and Fagan were not interviewed as part of the review that started as a well-being check on the 21 Indigenous players.

The Herald Sun has been unable to confirm which allegations the coach corroborated, but the Herald Sun is not suggesting the coach’s information proves the allegations.

The report, including his signed statement, has been handed to the AFL, which received it a week ago and was in the process of launching an investigation.

The revelations broke on the ABC website on Wednesday, with the report set to take 6-8 weeks.

The AFL spent Thursday morning interviewing prospective panellists to lead the external review into blistering allegations at Hawthorn as it eyes having the quartet in place before Saturday’s premiership decider.

Its list of prospective candidates has been provided to representatives for the complainants involved, with further consultation with the AFL Players’ Association and Coaches’ Association before the final panel is set.

He confirmed he had contact with Clarkson and Fagan.

“I’ve had a level of conversation in the last couple of days – nothing of any substance really. Some before (the report emerged), some after yesterday. Just ‘are you OK?’” McLachlan said.

The league chief also met with senior indigenous players via a video call on Wednesday evening and said the overwhelming sense from players was that they were “sad” and “confronted” by the claims being made.

The panel will include a King’s Counsel, will be evenly split in gender and will include people with First Nations heritage and expertise.

“We want to make sure that all those involved feel comfortable with the balance and the representation and we’re working through it,” league boss Gillon McLachlan said on Thursday.

“I feel like we’ve made a lot of progress (on Thursday morning).”

McLachlan said that while time was of the essence, he anticipated an announcement before the Grand Final on Saturday.

“We’re clear and we’ve made that clear to their representatives and the players’ association that I think timing in this is really important here,” he said.

“We need to get the right panel that everyone is comfortable with, but obviously given the gravity of the allegations and the desire for people to respond, I think we need to move as quickly as we can while getting it right.

“I hope we would be able to get signed off by the end of (Friday), and certainly before the Grand Final.”

McLachlan said he had signed off on the terms of reference for the panel on Friday.

“As soon as we can get (the panel) signed off, the process can start, because I know this is very important,” he said.

“These are serious allegations and there are lots of people who want to be heard here.”

“I talked to (former Hawk) Shaun Burgoyne (on Thursday morning) who I think was confronted by that he’d been there through the whole period as one of our most senior indigenous leaders and wasn’t aware of any issues, and obviously felt challenged by that for a variety of reasons,” the outgoing CEO said.

“Lots of different issues. We had probably an hour and it was – as they all are – a good, open conversation about the issues which I’m thrilled to be able to have.”

He also backed further indigenous representation “at all levels” of clubs, including boards.

Originally published as Hawthorn First Nations report: Chris Fagan releases statement after bombshell

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