Senator John Madigan. Photo: Alex EllinghausenThe fight for the release of secret documents linked to the Essendon supplements saga has taken a twist, with independent senator John Madigan lodging a Freedom of Information request.
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Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority chief executive Ben McDevitt refused on Tuesday to release the written legal advice he received from the Australian Government Solicitor as to why seven documents relating to the Bombers’ investigation should not be handed over.

McDevitt quoted this advice when he appeared before the Senate estimates committee earlier this month.

Madigan, frustrated by McDevitt’s stance, has responded by seeking a Freedom of Information request over that written legal advice.

As the senate has been dissolved for an election, Madigan believes he had no other choice but to pursue this move in his bid to gain a better understanding of why 34 past and present Bombers are serving a 12-month ban for being administered a banned drug.

“The Australian Government Solicitor provided that advice to Mr McDevitt in confidence. What he then did with it was inconsistent with keeping that confidence,” Madigan said on Friday.

“By disclosing the gist and substance as well as the supposed conclusions of it to a senate committee, Mr McDevitt has made the public at large privy to that advice. He has waived his own right to the exclusivity of client legal privilege over that advice.

“It is now in the public interest that the full advice be disclosed because, quite frankly, it is highly improbable that any government solicitor would advise a Commonwealth official that compliance with an order of senate could in any way be a ‘voluntary disclosure’.

“The Australian Government Solicitor is not in the habit of holding parliament in contempt.”

Allan Hird, the father of former Essendon coach James, has also sought a copy of McDevitt’s legal advice.

An ASADA spokesperson said on Friday night: “Senator Madigan’s FOI request has been received and acknowledged by ASADA and will be processed in accordance with the requirements under the FOI act.”

Only one document, redacted in part, has been released – that being a 2009 review of ASADA.

McDevitt had said: “It would be imprudent of ASADA to hand the subject documents over to the minister for the purpose of them being tabled in the senate by the stipulated deadline. This is because, in the present circumstances, serious doubts attend the lawfulness of any voluntary disclosure of the subject documents by ASADA to the minister.”

He has since written to Madigan declaring he cannot hand over the information.

McDevitt has until June 20 to decide if he releases the legal advice but this could yet be extended.

Madigan’s key plan remains securing the seven documents, including the independent review of Operation Cobia by former Federal Court judge Gary Downes, the March 2014 final report of ASADA investigator Aaron Walker and an October 2013 report in which ASADA investigators allegedly found Gold Coast Suns footballer Nathan Bock and then fitness chief Dean Robinson had a case to answer over the alleged use of the banned peptide CJC-1295, and why ASADA opted to not pursue this.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.