McLachlan on defence over AFL affairs

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    AFL supremo Gillon McLachlan has denied full knowledge of the affairs that have shaken AFL headquarters and cost two executive their jobs.

    Football boss Simon Lethlean and fellow AFL heavyweight Richard Simkiss resigned this week after admitting to inappropriate relationships with junior football staffers.

    Their departures only came about after media coverage of the relationships.

    News Corp has reported Lethlean’s affair began around August 2016 and ended this March, around the time he accepted a promotion to become AFL football operations manager.

    The position is regarded as the sport’s second most senior role, behind only the chief executive.

    Speaking on ABC radio on Saturday morning, McLachlan suggested new information made their positions untenable.

    “There were facts that came to light this week that no one could step around and the men took accountability for it,” he said.

    McLachlan suggested he knew some things about the affair but not everything.

    “I had some visibility over information but not everything,” he said.

    “I certainly have had bits and pieces of information and I’ve discharged my responsibilities as chief executive to the best of my abilities (and) referred information I had to HR and I was comfortable with where things were.”

    Broadcaster Gerard Whateley put to McLachlan that the week’s events made the AFL look like a “tawdry knock off of Mad Men where the senior executives do as they please”, but the AFL supremo denied it was characteristic of the organisation’s culture.

    “It’s a culture I’m very proud of generally. It has changed over the last three or four years,” McLachlan said.

    He has pleaded for privacy for the individuals involved to tend to their personal lives.

    “Our priority right now is the two men and the women … these are good people and there are families involved,” he said.

    “My only care is about them at the moment and I don’t care about all the rubbish.”

    News Corp has suggested a third executive is facing claims of an inappropriate relationship.

    McLachlan said the AFL was no different to other workplaces where relationships could blossom.

    “Relationships in the office with single people per se are not a problem. The circumstances (with Lethlean and Simkiss) are,” he said.

    “I have people in the office having relationships. This is the real world.

    “It’s the context and the facts of the situation at hand here that meant both men took accountability.”

    © AAP 2017

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