Seven West Media’s (SWM) annus horribilis may have continued apace at yesterday’s rather unpleasant half-yearly results that saw profits dive a whopping 91 per cent; however, it does appear embattled CEO Tim Worner won’t be made the scapegoat.
Worner, who can’t appear to escape the ongoing mess created by his extra-marital affair with former employee Amber Harrison, has been assured his job is safe by SWM’s chairman Kerry Stokes.
Stokes used yesterday’s half-yearly results to praise Worner for doing an “outstanding job” while labelling his former mistress as “dishonest”.
“Tim Worner himself continues to enjoy the full confidence of the board as our CEO because he is doing an outstanding job,” Stokes said via teleconference.
On Harrison, Stokes said: “We need to call to account dishonest people who work for us,” a clear reference to Harrison’s misuse of company credit cards reportedly in the tens of thousands of dollars.
In a comment piece on yesterday’s The Australian (reported on B&T), SWM board member Jeff Kennett inferred Harrison’s misuse of credit cards included “questionable expenditures which totalled about $262,000.” Kennett also slammed the $380,000 SWM had paid to Harrison since the affair became public and inferred SWM’s generosity to Harrison had all but ended.
Stokes added: “There was a significant amount of money taken by her and no other excuse for it, that (was) just plain taken. Now and again dishonest people work for us and no system will stop dishonest people unfortunately.”
However, one journalist’s question at yesterday’s half-year results did rattle the 76-year-old Stokes. When questioned about the recent and sudden departure of SWM board member Sheila McGregor, Stokes reportedly fumed: “That’s outrageous! How dare you!”
McGregor – a prominent lawyer for a Sydney law firm – quit 12 days ago amid speculation she was unhappy with the governance of the SWM board, including the handling of the Harrison affair.
When asked why McGregor had quit, Stokes added: “The reason remains between her and I.” The plot thickens…