Folau Denies Agreeing to Limit Comments

Thursday, October 10th, 2019
Israel Folau playing with the Wallabies

Sacked rugby union star Israel Folau insists he never agreed to proposed limitations on his social media use before posting controversial Instagram remarks which led to the cancellation of his Wallabies contract.

Lawyers for the 30-year-old lodged further documents with the Federal Circuit Court on Thursday, as he sues Rugby Australia and the NSW Waratahs for unlawful dismissal.

“Rugby Australia attempted to have Mr Folau ‘agree and acknowledge’ certain purported limitations on his ability to use social media and otherwise comment publicly, but he did not do so,” the documents state.

Rugby Australia never followed up the issue, according to the documents.

The staunch Christian, previously in hot water for his social media comments, also denied claims Rugby Australia boss Raelene Castle warned him there would be “significant consequences” if there was another incident.

However, Mr Folau claims that during the November 2018 meeting, which took place a month after his contract was signed, he had a right to express his beliefs.

“Mr Folau told Ms Castle that he appreciated where she was coming from, but that he had a right to express his religious beliefs about what was in the Bible,” his lawyers said.

In one post, Folau said transgender people were evil and should repent.

The post, which was a call for people to put their faith in Christ, ended with ‘Jesus Saves’, the very reason for the post.

In the latest court documents Folau also criticised the appointment of a human rights lawyer to the Rugby Australia-convened three-person tribunal which investigated his behaviour and ultimately recommended his sacking.

Folau objected at the time to the appointment of Kate Eastman SC “on the ground of apprehended bias”, partly due to her advocacy for the LGBTI community.

She previously chaired the Law Council of Australia’s Equal Opportunity Committee, the NSW Bar Association’s Diversity and Equality Committee and the Australian Bar Association’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee.

“Rather than accept Mr Folau’s concern and appoint another legal practitioner (or, indeed, any other person) to replace Ms Eastman SC, Rugby Australia opposed Mr Folau’s application.”

In May this year, Folau’s contract with Rugby Australia was terminated.

Folau, who is also seeking an apology and for his position to be reinstated, will return to court on December 17 ahead of a trial if mediation is unsuccessful.

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