Aly defends support for Richmond player banned for striking

THE Project star Waleed Aly has spoken out regarding the criticism he has faced following the two-game suspension handed down to Richmond player Bachar Houli.

Houli was slapped with a two-game ban from the AFL tribunal on Tuesday evening, as a result of his clash with Carlton's Jed Lamb at the weekend.

Lamb was knocked unconscious after Houli hit out at Carlton player's head in an off-the-ball incident.

But Houli was only suspended for two matches, following character references - penned by Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Aly.

The AFL has announced it  will contest the punishment - the first time the league has done so in history.

The suspension has been seen in most quarters as inadequate and the involvement of Aly and Turnbull condemned.

The Project host revealed he had been asked to provide a character reference from Houli's legal team on Monday evening, to help the Tigers' stars case.

Aly, a known Richmond Tigers supporter, took to The Project to defend his involvement - saying the use of the character reference is standard practice in a legal setting.

"I thought about it that night, I wrote it, sent it to them, that was the end of my involvement," Aly explained.

"This is not an uncommon thing.

"You do get character references in courts all the time. That is a really common thing. The tribunals are based on a court. These are the rules that they have had in place.

"They have used them before I think in tribunal settings. It is not like this was something that was dreamt up by Richmond or by the lawyers or anything like that. It is a standard procedure."

Aly's Project co-host Peter Hellier, who is currently on holidays, emailed the program to grill his castmate on the role he played in the case.

Hellier, a devoted Collingwood fan, felt the personal lives of players should have no impact on their deeds on-field.

The Logie winner admitted that he could see Hellier's point, but again defended his actions, highlighting how character references are generally dealt with by the court.

Aly said he feels the anger generated by the public is more due to the AFL tribunal's decision, rather than the use of he and Prime Minister Turnbull as advocates for Houli's good character.

"It's really not appropriate for me to talk about this hearing when it is still going and I'm a character reference in it,"

Aly said. "Generally speaking, the way that a character reference works, it can be considered in a different number of ways.

"A court might say because of good character, we will reduce the sentence. If they consider it is appropriate in that case. Or they might use it to try to shed light on how the particular action that the case is about should be interpreted.

"So, if they are trying to figure out whether the person involved intended to hurt somebody or whatever, then it is relevant to that or it can be relevant to that that a court figures out is this the kind of person who is likely to have intended to do something like that?

"That is not the whole story. That is just something they can take into account. I feel like the controversy is really to do with the tribunal's decision and what weight they gave to different things and that has nothing to do with me and doesn't have anything to do with Bachar Houli either.

"It is about the tribunal's decision and there is an appeal and I will continue on my merry way."

News Corp Australia

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