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McLachlan says AFL ‘doing what we were asked’ in naming panel to conduct Hawthorn review

AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan has said there is no guarantee the complainants in the Hawthorn cultural review would participate in the external investigation.

Key points:

  • Gillon McLachlan says he will respect the decision of First Nations players’ families if they choose not to participate in the Hawthorn investigation
  • An independent, four-person panel was announced on Wednesday
  • McLachlan says he is “optimistic” the review will be completed by Christmas

On Wednesday, the AFL announced a four-person panel to investigate allegations made against former Hawthorn coaches.

The panel will be comprised of four lawyers: Bernard Quinn KC, Tim Goodwin, Julie Buxton and Jacqualyn Turfrey.

Two of the families interviewed for the club’s cultural safety review confirmed to ABC Sport they had only learned the identities of the four-person investigative panel via media reports.

McLachlan said the AFL was still hoping the families would engage with the investigation.

“No, I don’t think we do [have guarantees they will participate]. We are working with the legal representation of the complainants,” McLachlan said.

“Ultimately, all we can do is put together an independent panel, the terms of reference that they’re considering, and we’re consulting with them on, and put the best process we can together as a result of a report they asked us to investigate.

“We can only do what we were asked. We were asked by the complainants to put this together and it’ll be their decision. We’ll respect it.

“I’m optimistic they will [take part], but we don’t have those guarantees.”

McLachlan said he was optimistic the investigation would be finalised “pre-Christmas”, and that the AFL had previously said it expected the results would be made public.

He said he was confident in the impartiality of the panel, after concerns voiced by Alastair Clarkson, who has denied the allegations of wrongdoing.

“We’ve got an independent panel of eminent people, a balanced panel that we have announced today. [Clarkson’s] legal team have given feedback on the terms of reference, as have all interested parties,” McLachlan said.

“These are people well qualified to look into this under specific terms of reference and I feel it’s the appropriate mechanism to go forward.

“I feel we are taking this incredibly seriously and we doing as we have been asked to do in a very difficult circumstance,” he said.