Glen Bartlett stood down as Demons boss when his drive to rid the club of toxic culture was thwarted

I refer to recent media over the last few days (including print media, radio, podcasts, and National TV coverage) where some false narratives have been put forward regarding me with respect to the Kate Roffey text saga and the AFL meeting.

I have remained silent for months, despite being regularly sniped at since I decided to stand-down as President and therefore now find I have no alternative but to release the following statement:

On Sunday April 11, 2021, I announced my decision to step down as president of Melbourne Football Club.

Since that Sunday at the MCG, there have been numerous articles over a significant period of time that purported to publish the real reasons behind, and circumstances of my departure and related matters. This is in addition to numerous radio interviews, podcasts, and TV shows. Many of the publications contained false and damaging material and perpetuated false narratives.

I have never responded publicly to the errors and false narratives in the reporting, until now. The main reasons I have not responded publicly until now is because of my wish to protect the club including the coaches, the players and members and resolve the issues quietly behind the scenes. However, with my defamation proceedings becoming public and the comments that have followed I felt enough was enough and I need to put out this statement to make my position clear on particular matters that have been the subject of public comment.

The decision to step down when I did was mine. I did so to ensure minimal distraction, after a very promising and indeed historic start to the season.

As president, a Workplace/OHS Lawyer, and a parent, I was not willing to compromise on fundamental values, the law and expected standards of behaviour.

I believe that my approach and the raising of these issues resulted in a campaign against me from various quarters that was inimical with proper administrative governance and taking seriously important though delicate and sensitive matters. It also showed, in my view, a disregard for the health and well- being of both me and my partner and our professional and business interests.

Since March 2021, we have been subjected to threats, deceitful conduct, and a public campaign to discredit us professionally and personally.

I have also, as noted above and as has been reported, complained about, and had to take action in relation to what I claim to be false and defamatory publications about me. The hurt and distress and damage caused by these publications is aggravated by the fact that they are published on the internet and that previous articles are not only present and remain on the internet but are also hyperlinked to in later articles.

The cost has been great, in particular to our health. I communicated my concerns and requests to be left in peace and to be afforded the opportunity to leave the presidency and club with dignity to enjoy the season after eight years of leading a unified and collegiate board and club. Unfortunately, this was not forthcoming.

Having left the board last November 2021, threats towards myself and my partner were made even in February and March of this year. We have sought undertakings that the threats and contributions to defamatory publications stop – these undertakings have not been forthcoming.

The AFL have been briefed in relation to the above and are aware of the bullying conduct and threats made towards myself and my partner and the impact on our health and well-being.

Turning now to the publications that I consider defamatory and false about me. I have given Kate Roffey several opportunities to address and correct her contribution to articles that were ultimately published containing damaging and inaccurate narratives regarding myself and impacting my partner Victoria and our businesses. Ms Roffey has declined to correct any such statements privately or publicly. The one article by the Herald Sun has been corrected and the publication of those “text messages” on 7 June 2022 were in relation to that legal dispute and that correction by the Herald Sun. The “text messages” were not leaked but as the Article explains obtained legitimately by the Herald Sun during the legal dispute.

It is one thing to be subjected to a campaign of leaks, which is bad enough. However, it is entirely another thing to be subjected to a campaign of misleading and damaging and purported leaks calculated to damage me.

I also want to make one thing crystal clear: There have been suggestions that I leaked board papers to Michael Warner at the Herald Sun in February and the news of my resignation to Tom Morris the night before the Geelong game in April 2021.

I did not leak this information that was published by the Herald Sun and Fox Footy, which is a matter that might well be raised down the track in legal processes where it will be dealt with under oath. The allegation is false and is one that I take very seriously because it strikes at the heart of my integrity and is clearly designed to further harm my reputation.

In recent months I have given the relevant journalists and publishers the opportunity to resolve my concerns and to also provide undertakings to not engage in any further defamatory conduct. Such undertakings have not been forthcoming, and my serious concerns remain unresolved, so I believe I had no alternative but to commence legal proceedings.

In particular, I have, as has been reported, recently filed a writ in the Supreme Court of Western Australia against Caroline Wilson, Jake Niall, and The Age (and various related entities).

To be very clear the legal action is NOT against the Melbourne Football Club and the members who own the club.

I spent eight years helping rebuild Melbourne and still hold considerable affection for the club, its members, players and sponsors. I loved my time there and I am immensely proud of what was achieved and look forward to the continued success.

I was very committed from when I took over in 2013 with Peter Jackson and Paul Roos to drive cultural change across the club. This is not always popular; however, leadership is not a popularity contest or about “being mates” in my view. I believed in and led with trust, respect, and unity right to the end. In my view, and I said this many times, it is imperative that our people who leave the club are always treated with dignity and respect – in my view the culture of an organization is defined by the way people leave the organization whether that be any player or staff member, any coach, the club doctor, or president.

I know I was not perfect however through my time at the club I treated the welfare of all of our people (from the senior Coach to the boot studder) as paramount and was steadfast in my responsibility to be able to look every person (including every parent) in the eye and confirm that I was doing everything possible to have a club free of workplace bullying; gambling; harassment and illegal drugs. I was truly committed to having the best environment 24/7 for all of our people and I treated everyone with respect. Individual and team performance is a different thing and should never be impeded by managing behaviour or used as a reason to “gloss over” the necessary management of behaviour/conduct. It is also a fact that the clubs who have developed the strongest cultures by embedding the “right behaviours” have enjoyed sustainable success by playing in the most finals campaigns (and winning the most premierships) over the last 20 years.

Finally, football has always been an important part of my life and maintaining the integrity of the sport is my highest priority. Given the impending investigations and legal processes we have initiated I will not be making any further comment on these issues at this time, and I would ask all concerned to respect our privacy and well-being.