Nine’s CEO Hugh Marks has said the network will conduct a full review into what went wrong in the 60 Minutes saga which saw four crew members held in Lebanon for two weeks.
The crew members have just been released and are headed back to Sydney.
The four 60 Minutes employees, Tara Brown, Stephen Rice, Ben Williamson and David Ballment, were detained alongside Aussie mother Sally Faulkner and three others after a child recovery mission went awry. Faulkner has been released alongside the crew, but the others involved in the botched attempt are reportedly still in custody.
The crew members and Faulkner were held on kidnapping charges, but were reportedly released after coming to an agreement with the father.
According to Nine News, the group are expected to land in Sydney later this evening.
60 Minutes team begin to make their way home to Australia, with 9News’ Darren Wick. pic.twitter.com/TBhL4Qd4gD
— Nine News Australia (@9NewsAUS) April 20, 2016
In an internal memo to staff, Marks expressed his relief and gratitude of the release and said the network will investigate what happened.
“As you would all by now be aware our 60 Minutes team, together with Brisbane mother Sally Faulkner, are out of detention and on their way home,” he said.
“It is an enormous relief for all involved but particularly the families and loved ones of our 60 Minutes team who have suffered a great deal over these last two weeks.
“Nine will conduct a full review that will be headed by Gerald Stone, with David Hurley and General Counsel Rachel Launders, to ascertain what went wrong and why our systems, designed to protect staff, failed to do so in this case. We will task the review with recommending the necessary actions to ensure that none of our colleagues are put in a similar position in the future.
“It is important to reiterate that at no stage did anyone from Nine or 60 Minutes intend to act in any way that made them susceptible to charges that they breached the law or to become part of the story that is Sally’s story. But we did become part of the story and we shouldn’t have.”
See his full statement at the bottom of this article.
Speaking to NineNews the team expressed their relief at coming home and couldn’t wait to see their families.
“It’s great to talk to home and it’s great to be going home,” Brown said.
The mother, Sally Faulkner, added: “I mean they treated us well, I can’t complain about that, it’s just the uncertainty that sort of kept me awake at night, not knowing if it was going to be a life-long sentence.”
The families of those had detained had previously issued a statement saying they were in a “living nightmare”.
Hugh Marks’ full statement:
As you would all by now be aware our 60 Minutes team, together with Brisbane mother Sally Faulkner, are out of detention and on their way home. It is an enormous relief for all involved but particularly the families and loved ones of our 60 Minutes team who have suffered a great deal over these last two weeks.
I would like to personally thank the Australian Government, the Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, the Australian Ambassador to Lebanon, Glenn Miles, and his consular staff in Beirut and staff at the Department of Foreign Affairs in Canberra for their advice and assistance.
I also pass on my thanks to our local team in Lebanon, and those who supported them from Australia (particularly Kirsty Thomson and the 60 Minutes team) who have worked around the clock in securing our team’s release.
You should know that the crew has asked me to thank the officials in Lebanon who were involved in their detention for their professionalism and for treating them with dignity and respect.
It is important to reiterate that at no stage did anyone from Nine or 60 Minutes intend to act in any way that made them susceptible to charges that they breached the law or to become part of the story that is Sally’s story. But we did become part of the story and we shouldn’t have.
Nine will conduct a full review that will be headed by Gerald Stone, with David Hurley and General Counsel Rachel Launders, to ascertain what went wrong and why our systems, designed to protect staff, failed to do so in this case. We will task the review with recommending the necessary actions to ensure that none of our colleagues are put in a similar position in the future.
This has been an extraordinarily stressful time for the crew and for their families and I want to very publicly acknowledge how much they have been through and thank them for their courage, their perseverance and for the trust they placed in us to resolve events.
What has happened to Sally happens all too often and affects thousands of Australian families. It is a story that not only is profoundly in the public interest but also one the public is interested in. It’s an issue that we will continue to highlight.
Finally, I would like to acknowledge and thank our head of news and current affairs Darren Wick who has been in Lebanon since early last week. We should all drop in to Wickie’s office when he is back and say thanks.
Lead image via 9news.com.au.
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