Essendon chairman Paul Little. Photo: Wayne Taylor
Lawyers for James Hird and Essendon have called for key documents relating to why ASADA chief Ben McDevitt issued show-cause notices to be handed over, as a bold ASADA declared: "We want the trial.''
At a second directions hearing in the Federal Court on Wednesday, lawyer Catherine Button said the documents were important to press the case by Hird and the Bombers that the joint investigation by the AFL and ASADA into the club's supplements program was a ''tainted process''.
In arguing what documents would be supplied, lawyer Daniel Starr, acting for ASADA, said he could not yet reveal what the anti-doping body's defence would be but he wanted to ''get to the real legal issues'' and banish the ''white noise'' around the issue since Essendon self-reported in February last year.
Lawyer Nick Harrington. Photo: Penny Stephenson
''There is a way to cut through this. We want the trial. The viability of it is tenuous,'' he said.
The trial will start on August 11, but there will be another directions hearing before Justice John Middleton on Friday to determine whether the players will be required to give evidence.
Starr took aim at the amendments made by Hird in his statement of claim, released on Tuesday. He was particularly concerned where it was stated that: ''It was a purpose of the joint investigation that the respondent and/or ASADA obtain a benefit it did not otherwise have under the ASADA legislative regime when conducting an investigation''.
Lawyer David Grace. Photo: Penny Stephenson
He said he was concerned by suggestions ASADA had ''got around the act''.
''We read an alleged conspiracy,'' he said.
This was denied by Nick Harrington, representing Hird.
Justice Middleton also did not interpret the statement of claim as a conspiracy. ''No one is alleging conspiracy,'' he said.
Justice Middleton told the Hird camp that he was content to allow a subpoena against AFL investigator Brett Clothier, who played a major role in the investigation last year. It is understood the subpoena will only be for documents, and not to give evidence in person.
He also ruled ASADA had to hand over copies of its interim report, released in August last year to the AFL Commission, to the legal teams of Hird and Essendon. But the names of players will be redacted.
Justice Middleton wants several issues relating to documents and legal process resolved by July 24.
Starr said there were 45,000 documents that could be unveiled under discovery.
Outside the court, Essendon chairman Paul Little said the club was happy with the unfolding events.
Hird remains in France on a study tour and is not due back in Melbourne until July 28.