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ARU hit with subpoenas as Di Patston case continues

Di Patston in a Wallabies team photo in June last year.Lawyers for ex-Wallabies business manager Di Patston have issued subpoenas to the Australian Rugby Union as they seek access to key information in the adverse action case being played out in the Federal Circuit Court of Australia.
Wuxi Plastic Surgery

Patston will seek compensation under the Fair Work Act after she resigned last year in the wake of the Kurtley Beale text message scandal. The episode also saw Wallaby coach Ewen McKenzie walk away from the job in dramatic scenes after the Bledisloe Test in Brisbane.

A full brief of evidence has been lodged with the Court in Brisbane, with a series of affidavits submitted that outline Patston’s grievances against her former employers, who could face a damaging outing if the matter is heard on its scheduled date of June 2.

It is believed the evidence includes emails and text messages as well as contributions from McKenzie, who has left rugby and has been working in his former career as a town planner in Christchurch, which continues to rebuild from its catastrophic 2011 earthquake.

The ARU, represented by industrial relations specialists Herbert Smith Freehill, has until April 30 to lodge its response to the evidence as well as any objections to the subjects of the subpoenas, which could include the contents of the mysterious “second text message” that never came to light after internal investigations.

Lismore-based firm Somerville Laundry Lomax represents Patston and it is understood that the two legal teams have been corresponding outside of the court process, raising the prospect that a settlement could yet be reached before Patston, who also worked for McKenzie at the Queensland Reds, gets her day in court.

Whether it happens in June or beforehand, a resolution would put an end to one of the most unsavoury series of incidents in Wallaby history, which also put the spotlight on the management of the crisis by ARU chief executive Bill Pulver and chairman Michael Hawker.

McKenzie, thought by many to be the man to lead Australia at this year’s World Cup, left the code in disgust and was furious at suggestions he and Patston were involved in a relationship.

Beale was fined $45,000 for his role, while Patston already reached a sizeable financial settlement with the ARU when she parted ways with the governing body.

That payout was reported to include the remainder of her contract and an undisclosed amount taking into account hardship.

No matter how it ends, the case presents as the most unwanted of distractions for the ARU, which reported a $6.3 million loss in its 2014 annual report and can ill-afford added legal fees or six-figure court settlements.

Some $3.3 million was spent propping up the Melbourne Rebels, while there has already been stinging criticism from grassroots members after juniors were hit with higher fees for their seasons.

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Wuxi Plastic Surgery Hospital.

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