Ex-Hawks official Burt denies claims in racism inquiry
Former Hawthorn official Jason Burt has denied witnessing an incident where a player was told to encourage his partner to have an abortion.
Burt, ex-Hawthorn coach Alastair Clarkson and former Hawks football boss Chris Fagan are the three men facing accusations of racism during their time at the club.
All three strongly deny the allegations.
Burt worked at Hawthorn from 2006-18 and for much of that time was their welfare manager.
He is the first of the trio to publicly go into detail about the accusation made against them.
The most serious claim is that an Indigenous player was told that his partner should have an abortion.
"It didn't happen, that's the first thing," Burt told Nine newspapers.
"I've never taken it to heart because I know that it didn't happen."
Burt added he was "floored" by the allegations.
While he denies wrongdoing, Burt admits to regret that he should have gone by himself to visit another player.
Instead, Clarkson and Fagan went with him as the player was ending a relationship.
"I think that's the part that overstepped the mark from being supportive to what could be deemed intimidating. And I get that and that's what makes me feel uncomfortable," Burt said.
Burt's public comments come as the independent inquiry into the claims continues to struggle to find common ground between the parties involved.
Burt, Clarkson and Fagan are understood not to have spoken to the inquiry, although Burt was reported as saying he had given a statement to the AFL.
Last week, Clarkson took indefinite leave from coaching North Melbourne for his health as he deals with the inquiry, while Fagan continues to coach the Brisbane Lions.
Burt now works at Melbourne private school Caulfield Grammar.
In the interview, Burt was also strongly critical of how Hawthorn and the AFL had handled the allegations.
"He (outgoing AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan) has been disappointing ... The AFL is a brand. For them to say they're worried about people is false. It's all about brand," he said.
Also on Saturday, Hawthorn released a carefully-worded statement expressing support for the voice to parliament referendum vote.
The Hawks are the latest AFL club to back the 'yes' vote.
"Hawthorn have had ongoing conversations with our First Nations players and staff, as well as the broader staff and player cohort about the upcoming referendum," the statement read.
"We are committed to ongoing education and listening so that we can understand the significance of such moments and demonstrate allyship with First Nations peoples.
"Through our conversations, education and learnings, and internal surveys the club has formed a position to support a First Nations voice to parliament."
The Hawks racism saga started last year, after former Indigenous star Cyril Rioli and his wife Shannyn Ah Sam-Rioli publicly claimed they were treated poorly during their time at the club.
That prompted a Hawthorn review of current and former Indigenous players, which led to the bombshell racism claims.
The AFL set up the four-person inquiry eight months ago and it remains unclear when it will end, with attempts at mediation failing so far.