Hird attacks ASADA over rights

James Hird. Photo: Penny Stephens
James Hird. Photo: Penny Stephens
James Hird in December 2013. Photo: Mal Fairclough

James Hird in December 2013. Photo: Mal Fairclough

James Hird has alleged his legal team questioned the validity of the joint investigation by the AFL and the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Agency before his nine-hour interview in April last year and was not told he had a right to silence, new details lodged with the Federal Court on Tuesday claim.

In a 19-page statement of claim lodged with the court, Hird and his lawyers also claim ASADA provided draft versions of the interim report to the AFL before it was officially tabled on August 2 last year.

By doing this, Hird alleges ASADA "acted in breach of the confidentiality obligations imposed on them" by its Act and the National Anti-Doping Scheme.

“On dates known to the respondent, ASADA provided drafts or versions of the Interim Report or parts thereof to the AFL,” the statement said.

Hird and the Bombers maintain the investigation involving what should have been an independent ASADA was unlawful, therefore the 34 show-cause notices issued to current and former Essendon players are void.

Ahead of Wednesday's second directions hearing in front of Justice John Middleton, Hird’s statement of claim asserts that his legal team, led by Tony Nolan, QC, had raised concerns about the investigation before his interview on April 16 last year.

Under the AFL's anti-doping code, Hird was obliged to "fully and truthfully answer any question asked for the purpose of such investigation". He said he was warned that if he refused to talk, this could result in a sanction under the AFL rules.

However, Hird and his lawyers claim "that pursuant to the ASADA legislative regime, the applicant, upon being interviewed, had the right to remain silent without penalty or censure".

Hird details a conversation between Nolan and AFL investigator Abraham Haddad.

Nolan: “Now, gentlemen, we don’t want to enter into any debate as to the legal arguments today as to the nature of the joint investigation as distinct from two separate investigations. We’ll put that debate to the side for a later time, if necessary.”

Haddad: “Okay. That’s good.”

Nolan: “We understand that’s what you say.”

Haddad: “Yeah.”

Nolan: “And he understands what you say.”

Under the "effect of applicant's interests", Hird argues the issuing of show-cause notices "from or relying on information obtained in the joint investigation is likely to cause the applicant (Hird) damage to his reputation and business interests".

In pointing to proof of a "joint investigation", Hird has used an article AFL investigator Brett Clothier co-authored in the British Journal of Sports Medicine where "the AFL and ASADA partnered to undertake" an investigation "into peptide use at three AFL clubs by using modern investigative techniques".

Hird's statement also mentions Andrew Demetriou, the AFL's chief executive last year.

"Mr Andrew Demetriou, then AFL CEO, on or about 27 May 2014 affirmed the fact of a joint investigation and further stated that the AFL's resources and ability to compel people to give evidence had assisted the investigation".

The case is set for trial for a three-day trial, from August 11.

This story Hird attacks ASADA over rights first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.