Seven West Media (SWM) board member and former Victorian premier Jeff Kennett has come out swinging in defence of its embattled CEO Tim Worner and the Seven board labelling its detractor, Worner’s former lover Amber Harrison, as trying to turn her feud with the network into a “gender issue” and the the $380,000 paid to her was “too much”.
In a scathing editorial published on The Australian, Kennett outlined the great lengths SWM had gone to placate Harrison – a former Seven employee – following news of her affair with Worner going public and allegations she misused company credit cards.
Due to legal reasons B&T can no longer report Harrison’s responses via social media. It has also been reported the Seven’s lawyers have been successful in having Harrison’s social media posts that showed sensitive company documents and emails removed.
Kennett added his article for The Oz was of his own volition but had the backing of the SWM board. In it, he made the following, rather candid revelations:
• The affair between Worner and Harrison was consensual and started in 2012 and finished in July 2014. Worner was appointed CEO in May 2013.
• Harrison admitted to misusing company credit cards to the tune of $14,000 while employed as PA to Nick Chan the then CEO of Pacific Magazines. At this time she admitted to the affair with Worner.
• In 2014, Harrison left SWM due to “fragile health” and was paid $100,000 less the $14,000 she had misappropriated. Harrison was also ordered to return confidential items including a mobile and laptop but told her job would be kept open if she decided to return.
• Further investigations into the credit card scandal revealed “questionable expenditures which totalled about $262,000.”
• Harrison was then told her job was no longer available to her and she was paid a further $350,000 termination – $200,000 immediately and $150,000 over 12 months.
• The second payments stopped when Harrison did not return the sensitive material and she allegedly contacted journalists about her affair with Worner.
• Harrison went public with her affair in December 2016, however, Worner was subsequently cleared of any further wrongdoing by an independent enquiry.
Kennett concluded, “Ms Harrison has been treated extremely well by SWM for a relationship that she entered freely and which she continued for less than two years. This is not an issue of gender.”
He added that he would not agree to any more payments to Harrison or tolerate her attacks on SWM and its staff.
“But enough is enough — and $380,000-plus is certainly enough. In fact you could say it’s too much for a consensual relationship that lasted for less than two years,” Kennett wrote.