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Essendon, ASADA court documents go public

Essendon will be keen to keep off-field distractions away from the lead-in to finals - ${keywords}
Essendon will be keen to keep off-field distractions away from the lead-in to finals

CASES prepared by lawyers representing Essendon, James Hird and ASADA have been made public ahead of a Federal Court trial beginning next week.

Lawyers for 34 past and present Bombers players also presented a 10-page submission explaining how their clients were threatened with criminal action if they didn't tell the truth to AFL and ASADA investigators.

Essendon's opening submission consisted of a 95-page document walking through the timeline of the saga.

In response ASADA filed a 58-page submission.

Confidential parts of the submissions were redacted.

The documents point to:
- Notes of conversations between AFL officials, League investigators, ASADA officials and government representatives
- Claims the highest level of government wanted the matter resolved quickly
- ASADA saw the interim report as the end of its joint investigation with the AFL
- The AFL's keenness to end the saga before the 2013 finals

In its submission Essendon attempts to demonstrate ASADA acted beyond its powers by agreeing to a joint investigation with the AFL.

It argues even if new laws would allow ASADA to conduct an investigation of this type now, its case is about the laws as they stood at the time.

Essendon also says there is "no evidence" that it requested ASADA and the AFL to conduct a joint investigation.

But in its submission ASADA points to multiple statements from Essendon including one issued on 13 June 2013.

"There is still an ongoing investigation by the AFL and ASADA initiated by the Essendon Football Club," the statement read. "The club and our players are fully co-operating with the investigation…"

The club claims under the law, interviewees should have retained a privilege against self-incrimination "which was not available when the impugned investigation was undertaken under the auspices of the AFL's compulsive regime."

In their submission the players claim they were placed in an "invidious position."

The players say they were "subjected to a compulsory examination wherein their privilege against self-incrimination was abrogated."

"…it was made very clear to the players that they were obliged to attend interviews and answer questions truthfully and fully, or face possible sanction by the AFL.

"In respect of their obligation to be truthful, they were directed to provisions of the Commonwealth Criminal Code."

The trial is slated to last three days beginning Monday at the Federal Court in Melbourne.

Opening addresses before Justice John Middleton will be televised live.

The AFL said it had no comment while the matter is before the court.