Man Wrongly Named By Seven As Bondi Killer Hires Lawyers

Man Wrongly Named By Seven As Bondi Killer Hires Lawyers

Seven Network might have seen the last of the Lehrmann case for now, but the path ahead is nothing if not rocky. Lawyers have confirmed that Benjamin Cohen, the man Seven News wrongly identified as the Bondi Junction killer has hired lawyers and is seeking damages from the network.

On Sunday morning, Cohen was wrongfully identified in a report on Weekend Sunrise and its YouTube channel as the man responsible for the attacks that killed six people in the afternoon of Saturday, April 13, at Bondi Junction Westfield.

During a live cross on the program, co-host Matt Shirvington said, “40-year-old Benjamin Cohen, dressed in a Kangaroos ARL jersey.” The program later doubled down on the mistake, with another reporter saying, “The attacker, 40-year-old Benjamin Cohen, is known to police. His motives are not yet known. He was working on his own”.

Cohen’s lawyer, Patrick George of the law firm Giles/George, has confirmed that defamation lawyers have been engaged and a concerns notice has been issued to Seven.

A spokesperson said that the Seven Network “sincerely apologises” for its mistake. The issue was “escalated immediately and rectified,” the spokesperson said. A reporter later that evening went live on air to apologise for the error. “Earlier this morning, reports of the incident incorrectly named the perpetrator as 40-year-old Benjamin Cohen. It was later confirmed that the name of the 40-year-old is Joel Cauchi from Queensland. Seven apologises for any distress caused by our earlier reports”.

But it was unfortunately too late; the damage was done. Cohen’s LinkedIn profile, name and image began circling social media with claims that he either was or resembled the attacker.

“It’s extremely disappointing to see thousands of people mindlessly propagating misinformation without even the slightest thought put to fact-checking or real-life consequences,” Cohen said in a statement to Guardian Australia. “But what’s even more disappointing to me is a major news network doing this, using my name without waiting for a statement from police to verify this or going out to try to verify it themselves”.

This is not the first time Seven Network has found itself in hot water over fact-checking. Back in 2022, the network a man was wrongfully identified as the kidnapper of Cleo Smith. A confidential settlement was reached on this matter in the Supreme Court of NSW.

This latest drama is just the most recent in a long list of troubles for the network, with questions being raised over the acquirement of interviews on its Spotlight program being questioned in the Federal Court. Just this morning, it was confirmed that ex-Spotlight producer Taylor Auerbach, who signed an affidavit alleging the broadcaster paid for cocaine and prostitutes and gave evidence in the defamation trial between Lehrmann and Higgins, is threatening legal action against the network. Auerbach has demanded compensation and an apology from his former employer over claims that he lied.

Seven has also recently received criticism for its connections with reportedly disgraced war hero Ben Roberts Smith and its handling of former producer Michael Pell.

Yesterday, B&T gave our take on the whole Lehrmann affair and where it leaves Seven and 10. At the moment, it is unclear how the proceedings brought by Cohen will play out.

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