The ABC has released a statement defending its reporting of the Hawthorn racism report, rejecting claims they did not offer Alastair Clarkson, Chris Fagan and others the chance to respond.
Former Collingwood president Eddie McGuire alleged in the aftermath of reporter Russell Jackson’s story that Jackson had only contacted Fagan via “a general number” at Brisbane, rather than reaching out personally.
Jackson responded on Twitter: “Eddie McGuire has attempted to smear my reputation here and I will not stand for it.
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“I sent detailed questions to Chris Fagan’s Lions email address with 24 hours’ notice. He didn’t respond to my email, nor when I called his phone and left a message offering him more time.”
On Friday, the ABC addressed “misleading public commentary” surrounding the report.
“It has been stated or implied that the three former Hawthorn employees named in the story were denied a fair opportunity to properly respond to the ABC’s reporting,” a statement read.
“This is incorrect.
“On Monday 19 September and into the following day all three were contacted multiple times by the ABC, via email, phone call and text message. Also contacted were the media teams at Hawthorn and the Brisbane Lions and the personal management of one of the individuals.
“They were provided with all relevant information about the allegations. They were asked detailed and open-ended questions that gave them the opportunity to fully respond to all the allegations.
“After initially receiving no response, the ABC contacted all the parties again and offered them more time in which to respond. We again received no response to the questions.
“Statements provided by Hawthorn and the AFL were included in the story and the ABC has reported comments that have subsequently been made.
“While Russell Jackson’s story reports on the existence of the external review commissioned by Hawthorn, and some allegations made within it, his story was not based on that review and does not quote its contents. His reporting was based entirely on original interviews conducted with primary sources after he was alerted to this difficult and important story.
“His reporting has been accurate, fair and ethical.”
AFL CEO Gill McLachlan, speaking on Fox Footy the night after the report was released, said: “There was actually more in the papers yesterday, more substantive stuff, than was in the report in many senses.
“But there’s also some additional pieces in the report that haven’t come out. The flavour of what you read represents accurately the flavour of what’s in the report, if that makes sense.”