Tim Worner will continue as chief executive of Seven West Media in the face of revelations he had an affair with former employee Amber Harrison.
Following a board meeting, Seven West Media issued a statement clarifying what it says are “wide-ranging inaccuracies and false statements” made by Harrison when she decided to make the matter public on Sunday.
Seven said that a confidential settlement deed was entered more than two years ago with Harrison and Seven.
“Confidentiality (including mutual non disparagement) was agreed by both sides in the interests of both sides who were the subject of the allegations, which were resolved on a “without admissions” basis,” the statement read
“The payment, agreed to be made to the former employee in instalments, took into account her solicitors’ strong assertions regarding her needs and fragile emotional stability and were designed to enable her to move on with her life.”
Seven said it is entitled to withhold payment for non-compliance with the settlement deed and that Harrison failed to progress her complaint in the Australian Human Rights Commission.
Harrison claimed the affair began in 2012 and lasted nearly two years before she became despondent and depressed over the way she was being treated by Worner and the network.
The former EA to then Pacific Magazines boss Nick Chan claimed she was pushed out of Seven West Media after complaining about Worner, which led to an investigation that saw the EA accused of $276,000 in corporate fraud. She sensationally claimed the affair may have also brought about the end of Chan’s career at Seven West Media.
Seven rubbished both claims.
“Allegations made in her statement which name other employees are rejected totally, including any allegation that other current or former employees have been paid off,” the statement added.
“In relation to the company’s enquiries into Harrison’s credit card account, it was noted that concerns regarding misuse of her corporate credit card and personal expense claims she charged to Seven, arose from standard expense reconciliation enquiries prior to management and the Board being made aware of the relationship.
“These were then confirmed in a report carried out by an independent firm of accountants engaged at the request of the audit committee. Allegations by Harrison that this was a vindictive reaction to the misuse of her credit card or arose other than from normal process and policy are rejected.”
Seven said Worner apologised for the “inappropriate consensual relationship” prior to his appointment as chief executive and received a stern warning from chairman Kerry Stokes. Worner said: “This relationship finished some years ago and I apologised at the time, and am still trying to make amends.
“I am obviously filled with the deepest regret and shame. My focus is to continue to work through this in private and minimise the distress to my family. They are the most important people in the world to me and I will continue to fight to repair the damage I’ve caused.”
The fallout of the scandal caused Seven’s share price to fall by about 8% yesterday. How this plays out in longer-term remains to be seen but for now Seven West Media is standing firmly behind their leader.
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