Mediation likely as breakthrough sought in Hawks saga

·2-min read
Morgan Hancock/AAP PHOTOS

A mediation session planned for this week is likely to go ahead as a breakthrough is sought in the Hawthorn inquiry.

But who attends the session, when it happens and what might come out of it remains unclear.

Alastair Clarkson's bombshell decision last week to take an indefinite break from the AFL has highlighted the stresses and depth of feeling around the inquiry into allegations of historic racism at Hawthorn.

Clarkson, Chris Fagan and Jason Burt - the three people named in the allegations - all strongly deny any wrongdoing.

The AFL commissioned an independent inquiry to look into the allegations eight months ago, but it remains unclear when there will be any resolution.

It is understood a mediation session is planned for Tuesday in Adelaide.

Earlier this month, inquiry chairman Bernard Quinn KC issued a lengthy statement detailing how the process had stalled over a request for documents.

Quinn said the panel was trying to coordinate mediation, in tandem with the investigation, after a request from some of those involved.

He stressed no specific conditions had been placed on the mediation, contrary to media reports.

Quinn said the panel had appointed Kate Eastman SC and former Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, Mick Gooda, as co-mediators.

"The panel sincerely hopes a mediation of the matters presently being investigated can lead to a resolution of issues between participants," Quinn said.

Clarkson's decision to take time away from the game for his well-being sparked fierce criticism of Hawthorn from North Melbourne president Sonja Hood.

On Saturday, she said the Hawks' initial handling of the allegations now under investigation had established "a monumental set of battle lines".

Separately, Hawks president Andy Gowers on Saturday sent a message to club members, defending Hawthorn's initial handling of the claims.

Western Bulldogs coach Luke Beveridge worked with Clarkson, Fagan and Burt at Hawthorn and has expressed support for them.

"I was there during some of those periods that people are talking about and I was never privy to anything untoward," Beveridge said on Saturday.

"In my time at the Hawks, the three gentlemen in Clarko, Fages and Jase Burt, they were nothing but supportive and, I felt, always had everyone's best interests at heart, so it was a surprise when it first came out.

"I feel for all parties involved. I just hope that everyone's going to be okay in the long run.

"Time seems to heal most wounds. But time will tell whether it heals these ones."