TWO Wells Returned Services League (RSL) branch members have continued to throw their support behind their president, and Adelaide Plains Mayor, Tony Flaherty, after he was last week vindicated of false allegations made against him.
Mr Flaherty was cleared of allegations, made by the Royal Australian Regiment Association in July, which argued he had falsely claimed to have acted as a Platoon Commander during the Vietnam War, despite being sent to serve as a cook.
The allegations, and subsequent investigation by the RSL state board, saw Mr Flaherty dismissed from his board position, by a state tribunal, despite him presenting evidence to support his case.
Mr Flaherty then fronted a National RSL tribunal to appeal the decision, with its findings being made public last week.
In a statement aired on Friday night’s Nine News bulletin, the National RSL stated that “central to the complaints against Mr Flaherty…is wrong, ill-informed… there was no effective attempt at mediation (and) it might be argued that Tony was subject of a sustained campaign”.
Speaking during the same bulletin, Mr Flaherty – who did not return The Bunyip’s calls for comment – said his reputation had been tarnished as a result of the allegations and the state tribunal’s decision.
“I think the thing that got me was the way people turned on me,” Mr Flaherty told Nine News.
“I was never going to wear my medals again.”
Two Wells RSL secretary and long-time friend John Allen said the home branch has offered nothing but support to Mr Flaherty.
“We support our president 110 per cent, we believe exactly what he has said is right and all we can do is stand by him and support him,” he said.
National RSL chief executive Georgie Macris publicly apologised to Mr Flaherty, on behalf of both branches, during the Nine News report.
“I would like to apologise on behalf of the national president of the RSL, Robert Dick, and state president Tim Hanna to Mr Flaherty,” she said.
It is understood Mr Flaherty’s lawyers are currently preparing a defamation lawsuit against the RSL.