Blues' cyber probe

THE Central Murray Football Netball League will conduct an investigation into the actions of the Kerang Football Netball Club in the aftermath of an on-field incident which left Bronson Booth with a broken jaw.

The league board announced on Tuesday it will ask its independent investigator, Oscar Aertssen to review the online conduct of Blues players and management in the days following the September 2 incident.

Aertssen recently completed a separate investigation into the matter, which resulted in Woorinen forward, Doug Palmer to face the CMNFL tribunal on Monday on two charges of conduct unbecoming following the incident with Booth during the opening five minutes of the league's second semi-final.

The Blues obtained independent footage of the incident, which it passed onto the league for its match review panel to consider, but CMFNL rules state only the league's official match footage – which did not capture the incident – can be used to initiate a tribunal hearing.

However, the league has concerns with the alleged conduct of key Blues management in the days following the on-field incident.

League chairman, John Brookshaw said the league alleges the club allowed Blues members to place a statement online "which by omitting critical facts, deliberately misled the members of the Kerang FNC community and intimated that the CMFNL board was acting improperly toward the Kerang FNC".

"As a consequence of this incident the board of the CMFNL believe that the president of the Kerang FNC has breached several local, State and national policies," league chairman, John Brookshaw said.

"As the leader of the Kerang FNC at the time of the conduct, we believe the club to be vicariously liable for the conduct of their president, its players and its members in relation to this matter."

The omitted facts the league referred are guidelines that the league board does not have the power to "exercise executive authority" and overturn the rules of the league; that all clubs – including Kerang – approved the match review panel's rules and procedures and rules earlier this year; the CMFNL was acting on advice from the Australian Football League in regards to dismissing the independent footage obtained by the Blues; and if this footage had been accepted as evidence by the tribunal, the case would have been dismissed on appeal as the handling of the matter would have breached the league's own rules.

"By initially publishing this erroneous statement and later failing to correct it after advice had been provided by the AFL Central Murray commission and the AFL regional manager, we allege that the purpose of the statement and ongoing Facebook posts were intended ,but not limited to, cause the members of the board, as well as, the Woorinen Football Netball Club and their player, Doug Palmer to be bullied, attract emotional, psychological or physical distress, suffer abuse, coercion, or harassment," Brookshaw said. 

"The behaviour that was manufactured by the statement created risk for the health and safety of the board members, the Woorinen FNC, their player Doug Palmer as well as causing damage to the reputation and business of our major sponsor."

Kerang president, Rob Fisher declined to comment on the allegations.

FOR full report, read the September 29 issue of the Gannawarra Times.

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