Judge criticises Stokes and Kennett over Amber Harrison media attacks

A supreme court judge has condemned media attacks and “the war” on Amber Harrison by Seven West Media’s Kerry Stokes and Jeff Kennett, after he extended a gag order banning her from releasing documents relating to her affair with CEO Tim Worner and her employment with the company.

A NSW Supreme Court judge said Harrison may not cease her social media attacks on Seven unless restrained by a court order

Justice Robert McDougall handed down his reasons for extending Seven’s injunction against Harrison, noting he had little confidence Harrison would cease her social media attacks on Worner and SWM unless she was restrained by a court order.

Harrison – the former executive assistant to then-Pac Mags CEO Nick Chan – and Worner began a two-year affair in 2012, but the relationship broke down when she was transferred to the same building as Worner.

In December, she launched a damaging media attack on Seven and Worner after the company allegedly stopped payments to her as a result of what they saw as her breaching a deed of agreement.

Criticism was not solely reserved for Harrison’s social media actions, however, with Justice McDougall also taking aim at Seven West Media board member Kennett and chairman Stokes for their Twitter and newspaper attacks on Harrison.

“Mr Stokes and Mr Kennett likewise descended into a welter of accusation and counter accusation,” he said.

“I do not think the war Mr Kennett waged was well advised.”

Judge described Jeff Kennett’s attacks on Amber Harrison as a war that was not well advised

McDougall noted that while counsel for News Corp and Fairfax had called the matter one of “public interest”, Andrew Bell, barrister for Seven had instead described it as “a matter of public notoriety” and said the media had not been gagged from reporting the matter.

In extending the order until the matter is heard again on March 3, McDougall said that Harrison has been “reckless or indifferent” to the collateral damage she was causing to others, and that there was a strong case put by Seven that she had breached a deed she entered into to hand over devices and documents.

“I am of the opinion there is a strong prima facie case that Miss Harrison has breached her obligations,” McDougall said. said.

I am satisfied thew Ms Harrison breached some of the obligations under the second deed [with Seven]. Unless restrained she is likely to continue to do so.

“[There is] a mass of evidence showing Ms Harrison has threatened to destroy Mr Worner’s career apparently as some sort of revenge

“I am satisfied there is a very serious risk,” he continued.

McDougall also rejected assertions by Harrison’s barrister, James Catlin, that Seven had “cherry picked” claims about alleged theft by Harrison from a report submitted by Deloitte to Seven over the matter.


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