Warner giving zero farks about exposing the AFL again. Here’s hoping next time it’s about Gil after he has been forced out of the AFL as well.
AFL sex scandal: Inquiries made with senior league figures months before Simon Lethlean resigned
Michael Warner, Herald Sun
November 8, 2017 11:00pm
EMAILS and text messages reveal inquiries were made with senior AFL figures about the Simon Lethlean sex scandal four months before he was forced to resign.
The Herald Sun has obtained detailed correspondence between a Sydney journalist and AFL media manager Patrick Keane, then-football boss Lethlean and his personal assistant Vicki Lloyd 18 weeks before the league acted on the issue.
Lethlean and fellow league executive Richard Simkiss stood down on July 14 after their “inappropriate” relationships with younger female employees were exposed by the Herald Sun.
AFL chief Gillon McLachlan said at the time: “There’s always accountability for every action and I’m not going to talk about all the ins and outs, all I know is there were facts that came to light this week that no one could step around"
But the emails and SMS messages reveal detailed questions were first put about Lethlean’s affair with young Sydney-based worker Maddi Blomberg on March 10 and 11.
On March 10, Lloyd was alerted to the potential issue involving her boss, in an email from Channel 9 Sydney journalist Danny Weidler.
“Hi … Can Simon please call me regarding a story I’m preparing … It relates to a relationship he is having,” Weidler wrote.
Less than two hours later, Keane — who had spoken to Weidler that morning — acknowledged the email had come through.
“Danny … Your email has been received. I can’t answer when/what form Simon may come back to you but letting you know it (has) been received,” Keane texted.
Weidler responded: “Thanks mate. I can provide more details if needed.”
The following morning, Weidler detailed the allegations to Lethlean.
His email, sent at 6.53am, said: “I was hoping you could provide specific answers to these questions: 1. Did you know that Maddi was Kurtley Beale’s partner when you were having your affair with her? 2. Did you know someone from your workplace had alerted him? 3. Is it correct your last contact with Maddi was in Double Bay in Sydney a few weeks ago? 4. Did you tell Maddi you would not leave your wife for her? 5. Do you think it’s appropriate that you remain in a position of power in the AFL women’s game?”
Minutes later, Weidler informed the AFL spin doctor Keane: “Hi mate … I’ve sent specific questions through to Simon on his email Simon.firstname.lastname@example.org … Just wanted to confirm that’s his email and that he has received my email.”
Later that morning, having heard nothing, Weidler texted Keane, asking: “Who is the best person to put some questions to re Simon? I am wanting to know what impact this will have … given his heavy involvement in the women’s game — I’d like to get someone from the AFL on record please. Thanks.”
Neither Keane, Lloyd nor Lethlean responded. The Herald Sun provided the full text and email exchanges to the AFL yesterday.
AFL spokeswoman Elizabeth Lukin said neither the league, nor AFL Commission chairman Richard Goyder, had any comment.
Ms Blomberg was an employee at the AFL’s NSW office when she and Lethlean began their affair last year.
Lethlean was promoted to the position of AFL football operations manager on March 2 — just eight days before Weidler’s initial inquiries. The Herald Sun ultimately broke the AFL affairs scandal on July 9, after first sending written questions about Lethlean’s conduct on June 8.
Neither Lethlean nor Simkiss were named in the July 9 article, with the AFL initially playing it down privately to others in the media.
But hours after further questions were asked by the Herald Sun on July 13, Simkiss and Lethlean handed in their resignations.
When McLachlan was asked how much he had known about the Lethlean and Simkiss affairs, he said: “I had some visibility over information but not everything, I certainly have had bits and pieces. I discharged my responsibilities as chief executive to the best of my abilities, referred information I had to HR and I was comfortable where things were.”
Despite being forced out of the game because of the affairs scandal, Lethlean was strongly linked to the vacant chief executive position at Carlton, on Wednesday filled by Richmond executive Cain Liddle. McLachlan had publicly endorsed his return to a top football industry job.