Channel Seven’s Andrew O’Keefe, who currently hosts The Chase and formerly hosted Weekend Sunrise and Deal or No Deal, has been charged with common assault (domestic violence) in the early hours of Sunday morning.
Police allege that O’Keefe assaulted his partner Dr Orly Lavee, a consultant haematologist at St Vincents Clinic, just before 1am. He was then arrested on a nearby street at 3.30 am and taken to Maroubra Police Station.
In a statement, NSW Police said, “Just before 1am, officers from Eastern Beaches Police Area Command attended a Randwick unit, after reports a 41-year-old woman had allegedly been assaulted in a domestic violence related incident.”
“Following inquiries, police arrested a 49-year-old man nearby about 3.30am. He was taken to Maroubra police station where he was charged with common assault (DV) and granted conditional bail to appear at Waverley Local Court on Thursday, 4 February 2021.”
O’Keefe has been released on bail, will not be able to contact Dr Lavee except through a legal representative. An interim apprehend violence order has also been granted.
O’Keefe was a founding member and former Chair of domestic violence organisation White Ribbon Australia. In 2017, he received an Order of Australia medal for his contributions to both television and charity work.
He is also the son of former NSW Supreme Court Justice Barry O’Keefe.
According to both the Daily Mail and Daily Telegraph, the Seven Network were allegedly preparing to fire O’Keefe prior to the incident.
There were rumours that O’Keefe was going to be replaced in his role on The Chase in 2021 by Rove McManus. According to the Daily Telegraph, “if O’Keefe were to leave, media all-rounder McManus, who was last seen hosing the ABC’s New Year’s Eve fireworks coverage, is top of producers’ wish list, say insiders”. The publication also suggest Grant Denyer, who most recently appeared on Ten’s I’m A Celebrity Get me Out of Here, was a potential choice.
A spokesperson from Channel 7 told the Daily Mail prior to the arrest that, “Andrew O’Keefe has been a valued member of the Seven on-air family for many years” and that “the speculation about his future and alleged replacements is baseless, ill-informed and wrong”.
The Australian reports that the management of Seven news were “frustrated” with O’Keefe after filming of The Chase was impacted by his time in rehab during 2020. The Chase is on air before the news, and the network had to schedule reruns of the show. An insider told The Australian that “it gave us a terrible lead-in and affected the news ratings.”
In June 2020, Ryan Phelan, a fellow Channel 7 host, was charged with assault occasioning bodily harm in an alleged domestic violence incident. He was fired from his position at the Daily Edition due to the incident, despite having already been made redundant due to the show’s cancellation.
All charges against Phelan were later dropped.
The case against O’Keefe will be heard in Waverly Local Court on Thursday.
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