The details, both reported and rumoured, surrounding the Kurtley Beale and Di Patston case are at best confusing. At worst they are unprintable.
There is enough, however, in the actions of the ARU chief executive Bill Pulver for Australian rugby fans to be very concerned about.
If Pulver is already able to determine that the messages sent from Kurtley Beale to Di Patston in June were “highly inappropriate and deeply offensive” as he has stated they were, why the need for a high profile independent investigation?
A CEO and their management team have the ability to terminate a contract under certain circumstances. Either these circumstances warrant that course of action or they don’t. Pulver has been sufficiently satisfied to publicly attest to the message’s nature (inappropriate) and purpose (offensive). Why does he not now act decisively one way or the other?
By stating his position prior to the commencement of the investigation, Pulver has divested himself of impartiality and brought into question the purpose of the investigation. What were the specific requirements that elevated this to an issue requiring independent investigation?
Worse, he has exposed the ARU to accusations of deliberately ensuring that Beale receives the most negative press coverage possible.
This is supported by Pulver’s decision to deliver the press statement himself. Why did the CEO of a national sporting organisation need to be the public face of an accusation regarding an exchange, offensive or otherwise, between two employees?
The exchange hasn’t been described as being a police matter, and there is no clear reason for an independent investigation. This can have nothing other than a detrimental impact on the profiles of those involved, and the sport.
It has already been established by Pulver that it was a clear and deliberate transgression.
Considering the nature of the accusation against Beale and the CEO’s demonstrated ability to determine both the outcome and intention of his actions, how does the response to this incident fit with the ARU’s responses to previous incidents?
And now for the kicker, how can we accept that this move was taken without a view to the media influence it was certain to cause? Is this a smear campaign?
If this investigation leads to the termination of Kurtley Beale’s contract with the ARU, are we satisfied that due process has been followed and that the CEO of the ARU has not used his position to inappropriately influence that process?