James Hird claims in a writ that the AFL urged Essendon to call for an investigation into their 2012 supplements program because it would look better for the club.
Essendon coach Hird’s lawyers lodged a writ in the Victorian Supreme Court on Thursday seeking to have AFL charges against him heard by an independent tribunal, not the AFL Commission.
It also seeks to have AFL boss Andrew Demetriou and any AFL commissioner who has been given access to the ASADA interim report on the on-going investigation into the Bombers to be banned from future hearings.
In court documents Hird details a phone call from Demetriou to then-Essendon chairman David Evans on February 4 which allegedly alerted the Bombers to investigations into drug use at the club in 2012.
“Evans said that Demetriou said words to the effect that Essendon players had been taking performance-enhancing drugs,” Hird’s writ alleges.
“Evans communicated the tip off to Hird and other Essendon officials including Danny Corcoran and Ian Robson (then-Essendon chief executive).”
Hird says the following day Robson, Essendon media adviser Justin Rodski and Hird attended a meeting at AFL House.
AFL deputy chief Gillon McLachlan told the Bombers they should come forward to the AFL and ask for an investigation, Hird alleges.
“If you come forward earlier and invite ASADA to investigate, then the investigation will look better for you,” Hird claims McLachlan told Essendon’s officials.
“Hird told McLachlan, as was the fact, that Essendon had not used PEDs (performance-enhancing drugs).
“On February 5 2013, Hird, Robson and Evans gave a press conference at the urging of McLachlan and the defendant (AFL).”
Essendon announced they were reporting to ASADA and the AFL about their 2012 supplements program.
Essendon, Hird and three other Bombers officials have been charged by the AFL with bringing the league into disrepute over Essendon’s supplements scandal since the AFL received an interim report from ASADA on its investigation.
Hird says he’s been denied natural justice by the AFL.
On Wednesday, eight days after the AFL announced it had laid the charges, Demetriou went ahead with the league’s stated intention to release the details of the charges in a 34-page document.
Hird is also hoping to stop the charges being heard until he has been given “proper particulars” of the charges against him and a list of the witnesses the AFL plans to call and the evidence they will give.
Hird wants the AFL to deliver the particulars by September 16 and the witness list by September 30.
Hird’s writ claims the AFL provided copies of ASADA’s interim report to “unknown members of the press including Fairfax Media”.
The AFL’s 34-page statement of grounds “includes allegations against Hird which Hird was given no opportunity to answer during the alleged joint investigation.”
Hird says with two rounds remaining before the AFL finals he fears he won’t be able to meet his coaching commitments fully and he is seeking damages for “interference with contractual relations” and court costs.