SBS has argued that its sacked reporter Scott McIntyre was terminated because of the broadcaster’s protocol not because of his controversial views.
Back in April, McIntyre tweeted his views of the 100th anniversary of the Gallipoli landings that caused widespread furore. SBS terminated McIntyre’s employment the next day via email – allegedly at the request of then communications minister Malcolm Turnbull – and he is now suing for unlawful dismal.
The matter is currently before the Federal Court and it is being reported in the Fairfax Media that SBS has argued it removed McIntyre because it asked the reporter to delete the tweets and he refused not because of the actual nature of the tweets.
The tweets included: “Wonder if the poorly-read, largely white, nationalist drinkers and gamblers pause today to consider the horror that all mankind suffered” and “Remembering the summary execution, widespread rape and theft committed by these ‘brave’ Anzacs in Egypt, Palestine and Japan”.
Yesterday, the Court heard that when the tweets first appeared on Anzac Day, SBS management contacted McIntrye to remove them immediately, however, it is reported that he refused to do so.
The Court was also told that Turnbull and SBS managing director Michael Ebeid had a phone conversation about the tweets on the evening of Anzac Day but Turnbull never instructed Ebeid to sack McIntyre.
The following morning McIntyre received an email that read:
“As discussed, because of your actions, your employment with SBS has been terminated effective immediately. The decision has been made because you refused by reasonable directions asking you to delete the offensive tweets you posted on Anzac day and refusal to issue an apology which has bought SBS and yourself into disrepute. Refusing a reasonable direction from your manager is a summary dismissable offence. Additionally, you have breached the SBS Code of Conduct, SBS’s Corporate Values and the SBS Social Media Guidelines which has resulted in your role being untenable because the community and our audiences have lost confidence and faith in you as a member of our on-air team.”
McIntyre is suing for loss of income, damage to reputation, humiliation, distress and anxiety.
Both parties have failed to mediate a solution and the matter will return to court in April 2016.