Seven West Media has confirmed boss Tim Worner has apologised for an inappropriate relationship he had with a former employee prior to becoming CEO after details were leaked to the press on Sunday.
Former Seven West Media executive assistant Amber Harrison, who was the EA to then Pacific Magazines CEO Nick Chan, went public with details of the affair after legal negotiations for a settlement with Seven West Media broke down.
Harrison claimed the affair began in 2012 and lasted two years before she became despondent and depressed over the way she was being treated by Worner and the network.
“The affair began the month after the board meeting at Pacific Magazines. We started flirting and soon after Tim began texting and emailing me for sex,” Harrison claimed. “I knew he was married. It was never about love. It was about sex and power.”
Harrison claimed her affair with Worner may have also brought about the end of Chan’s career at Seven West Media, as he became “collateral damage” after the affair was exposed internally. However, a Seven source told AdNews these allegations were unfounded and that Chan had left a while after she was sacked.
Harrison 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 admitted to repaying $14,000 in personal expenses, but that most of the money she was accused of misappropriating was either proved legitimate ($130,000) or struck off as expenses against her boss ($71,000).
"The entire process was a witchhunt, Seven did not investigate in any depth as they just thought they'd throw this enormous figure at me and bury me with it,” she said in a statement circulated to the press. “No employee should have to run their own investigation. And no other employee, out of 10,000, was subjected to the scrutiny that I was.”
A Seven source told AdNews her version of events are incorrect and the fraud was discovered after random checks triggered an automatic review under Seven's audit policy and an independent report carried out by auditors found substantial misappropriation of funds.
In the lengthy statement, Harrison makes several sordid allegations about the affair that this publication will not publish out of respect for privacy, but also said she “never felt this was a sexual harassment case”.
“It was about abuse of power and also workplace safety.” she said.
Harrison said that she decided to make the affair public because she became frustrated by the protracted legal process and mounting legal costs.
“How does one individual fight this massive company with unlimited resources? There is little recourse available to individuals in our court system, particularly against Seven who live to frustrate and litigate,” she claimed.
“They have continued to apply unreasonable, wide reaching and every changing demands to the very end and I have nothing left to fight them with now, except the truth.’’
Harrison’s allegations are expected to be challenged further by Seven West Media, Worner and their legal team as further details come to light.
Worner, who leads the most watched TV network in the country, is highly regarded as one of the more impressive and outspoken media executives in Australia. He was ranked among the top 10 most powerful media executives by AdNews this year.
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