The ABC said it did not use private investigators as part of its ‘Inside the Canberra Bubble’ Four Corners, which exposed alleged affairs and inappropriate behaviour by two current ministers.
The allegation, which first appeared as an ‘exclusive’ from investigations editor Sharri Markson in News Corp’s The Australian, was rejected in a statement from the ABC this morning.
It marks the latest news in growing hostility over the Four Corners episode.
“We do not use private investigators,” the ABC said in the statement.
The ABC also said that it had not received questions that The Oz said are being put by the Morrison government to managing director David Anderson.
These questions included asking whether the broadcaster had used covert surveillance on senior ministers at tax payer expense as part of its Inside the Canberra Bubble investigation.
“These questions have not yet been received by the ABC; they appear to have been sent to The Australian first,” the ABC’s statement said.
The Oz today reported that the questions were lodged on Tuesday night as “additional questions on notice” to the Senate Committee for Communications by Liberal senator Sarah Henderson.
The news comes a day after federal Communications Minister Paul Fletcher wrote to ABC Chair Ita Buttrose demanding the board of the public broadcaster explain how the episode was in the public interest, and how it complied with the ABC’s obligation to accurate and impartial journalism.
Fletcher made the letter, regarding the Four Corners, public by posting it to Twitter, but did not give people the right to respond to it—a move that was slammed by veteran investigative journalist and Media Watch host Paul Barry.
“So why can’t people reply Paul Fletcher? Not prepared to have this debated by the people you represent?” he tweeted.
Inside the Canberra Bubble explores the workplace culture in Australian Parliament House, including investigating specific allegations concerning two of Australia’s most senior politicians, Attorney-General Christian Porter and Immigration Minster Alan Tudge.
The ABC has not yet responded to the questions and allegations put forward by Fletcher, which included the accusation that the mix of people who had been interviewed were “overwhelmingly” weighted toward those personally hostile to the minsters and politically to the Liberal Party.
Standing by its report, the ABC’s statement said: “We invite the public to watch the story and decide for themselves on the import of the issues it raises.
“The ABC stands by its journalistic independence and right to report without fear or favour on matters Australians have a right to know about.”
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