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Hawks assistant reportedly backs up ‘aspects’ of racism allegations, McLachlan hints at more horror stories

An unnamed Hawthorn assistant coach has allegedly supported some of the accounts given by three former Hawks players and their families over racist treatment while at the club.

Sources speaking to The Age and Herald Sun connected with the Hawks’ review into treatment of Indigenous players during Alastair Clarkson’s time as coach, claim that the coach who supported ‘aspects’ of the families’ harrowing accounts both in the review and a subsequent interview with ABC journalist Russell Jackson, gave evidence to the review supporting their claims of mistreatment.

However, neither outlet can confirm the identity of the coach or the specific allegations he has supported, and reiterated that the claims do not suggest they prove Clarkson or then-assistant and general manager of football Chris Fagan are guilty.

Clarkson and Fagan have both categorically denied the allegations, which include claims they ordered a First Nations player to terminate his partner’s pregnancy and forced players to replace the SIM cards in their phones.

The report comes after AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan appeared on Fox Footy’s AFL 360 to reveal information about the league’s investigation into the Hawks’ report.

McLachlan confirmed the panel will be independent and that the selection of the panel is ongoing, and that ‘diversity’ would be a key aim in composing it.

“We want everyone to feel comfortable with the composition,” he said.

“As we talked about yesterday, it’s an independent panel. It’ll have the right functional skills but also diversity and that’s obviously cultural and gender.

“We’ll work through that over the coming period, so that’s occurring in real-time as we speak now. I got an email on the way here with some feedback on the panel we put forward, so we’ll keep working through that.”

McLachlan also suggested that even more shocking allegations are included in the report, and not just those reported by Jackson.

“There’s also some additional pieces in the report that haven’t come out,” he said.

“The flavour of what you read represents accurately the flavour of what’s in the report, if that makes sense.”

McLachlan defended the AFL’s handling of the saga, saying the right of the players to anonymity in the report contributed to a ‘difficult situation’ for the league.

Hawthorn Hawks logo

(Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images)

“In terms of the way we handled it, we’ve had no input or control, or ability to shape any part of it,” he said.

“I reckon we need to make that distinction pretty clear – so there was a report, a series of interviews commissioned by Hawthorn. I’m not sure how much visibility they had of that process. We didn’t have visibility over it.

“[We] started hearing some things and reached out to see if Hawthorn felt they were giving everyone opportunity or on top of the report as it was being processed, and we got feedback that they were. And then the report arrives.

“I feel we picked this up roughly a week ago, and the report arrives, and today we still are not sure who the people making the complaints are.

“It’s difficult then to start the process until we do that, but we respect greatly the courage to do it. [We] hope they’re getting the support they need.

“We’re committed to getting to the bottom of this. Clearly there’s also some challenges [in] the way it has landed for, I feel, both sides.

“It’s difficult clearly for the claimants with the publicity and then those accused, and what we need to do is run these allegations to ground.”

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