SECRET OBSERVER: Australian Wool Innovation chairman Wal Merriman.
SECRET OBSERVER: Australian Wool Innovation chairman Wal Merriman. FILE

Australian Wool Innovation chairman apologises for man-in-the-mirror scandal

EMBATTLED Australian Wool Innovation chairman Wal Merriman has apologised for wool's infamous 'man-in-the- mirror' incident.

In a letter dated last Wednesday and released this week, Mr Merriman apologised for secretly viewing a meeting of stud breeders, who use the genetic appraisal MerinoSelect, through a one-way mirror from an adjacent room.

The incident in Sydney in June was labelled "unethical” by wool growers and prompted calls for Mr Merriman to resign.

Meeting participants said they were assured anonymity and were not informed Mr Merriman - whose Merryville Merino stud in southern NSW does not use MerinoSelect - would be privy to the conversation.

In the letter sent to meeting participants, Mr Merriman apologised for the "poor decision” and guaranteed it would "never happen again under my directorship”.

"Never before have these meetings been held in a room with one-way glass to another room and if the AWI Board knew such a room was booked, it would have never allowed it,” Mr Merriman wrote in the letter.

"It was my mistake to not insist to be in the room with you and I apologise for this. My presence not being fully and openly declared by Axiom Consulting as an AWI observer is not the way I operate.”

AWI, which collected more than $50.3million in wool levies in 2015-16 with a further $13.4million coming from matching Federal Government contributions, has also come under fire following an incident where Mr Merriman told a journalist questioning him on industry issues earlier this month to "f--- off”.

The clash - which AWI described as "unfortunate” but has not apologised for - occurred at a wool industry event in South Australia last week when an ABC reporter approached Mr Merriman with questions about the mirror incident.

Mr Merriman and AWI chief executive Stuart McCullough will front a Senate estimates hearing in Canberra this week.