Bombers boss secretly taped meeting in bid to prove blackmail
Michael Warner, Herald Sun
18 minutes ago
BOMBERS boss Xavier Campbell secretly taped a cafe meeting with the father of former team manager John Elliott in a bid to prove the club was being blackmailed.
The Herald Sun can reveal Mr Campbell met John Elliott Sr at the Edward Abbott cafe in Napier St, Strathmore, last December to discuss John Elliott Jr’s redundancy after seven years as a club employee.
Mr Elliott Sr allegedly told Mr Campbell he did not believe his son had been offered enough money in his exit package and threatened to “sling a bit of mud, which will stick” unless it were increased.
In a legal letter sent two days later to Mr Elliott Sr, Bombers lawyer Tony Hargreaves declared: “Having listened to the recording, it is my opinion that you have committed the offence of blackmail … You have, among other things, threatened Mr Campbell that unless the club increases the offer to your son, you will speak to journalists with a view to discrediting Mr Campbell and or the club.
“We wish to make Mr Campbell’s position abundantly clear to you.
“Neither he nor the Essendon Football Club will tolerate being blackmailed.”
Mr Hargreaves alleged that in the taped meeting Mr Elliott Sr said words to the effect of:
“I DON’T want to get into mudslinging — I don’t want it on the front page of the paper”;
“IF it gets dirty I will go fullbore. I have a lot of c--t in me”;
“AS you know, a little bit of mud sticks, whether it’s true or not.”
“I AM happy to fight in the gutter, because that is how I have been brought up.”
Allegations against the club are detailed in statements by Mr Elliott Jr and Dean Wallis to an investigator acting on behalf of insurance broker Gallagher Bassett, which was assessing their claims for compensation for stress and anxiety they blamed on the club.
Mr Wallis, a former Dons assistant coach and team services and logistics manager, claims in his statement: “I have been scapegoated in relation to the supplement program, while others at the club have been covering up the use of cocaine, sexual harassment and fraudulent behaviour.”
Each declared: “This statement made by me accurately sets out the evidence which I would be prepared, if necessary, to give in court as a witness ... I make it knowing that, if it is tendered in evidence, I shall be liable to prosecution if I have wilfully stated anything in it which I know to be false or do not believe to true.’’
Gallagher Bassett ruled that the claims did not warrant WorkSafe payouts, but did not pass judgment on the validity of the allegations.
Responding to claims of threats and inappropriate demands, Mr Elliott Jr said on Thursday: “I want it to be very clear that I have only ever sought a reasonable settlement for the termination of my employment by the club and for my WorkCover claim which is now progressed to formal conciliation. I also want it to be made very clear that I have not been paid by the Herald Sun or anyone else.”
Victoria Police confirmed it was investigating “following a report of a blackmail matter, (but) as this investigation is ongoing, it would not be appropriate to comment further.”