Michelle Guthrie launches legal action against the ABC

Sacked ABC managing director Michelle Guthrie has started legal proceedings against the national broadcaster, having lodged a claim with the Fair Work Commission.

The ABC confirmed Guthrie has lodged a claim with the Fair Work Commission, but declined to comment further on the matter.

Guthrie was dismissed in September, a move which triggered the sacking of Justin Milne.

Guthrie’s dismissal has triggered a wave of instability within the national broadcaster which saw chairman Justin Milne step down a few days later over accusations of editorial interference.

Guthrie’s spokesperson confirmed to Mumbrella the complaint was lodged on Monday but provided no further comments.

The former CEO launching flagged she was considering legal action on the afternoon following her dismissal in statement saying she wad ‘devastated’ and felt there was “no justification” for use of her dismissal without cause.

When then-chairman Justin Milne announced Guthrie’s dismissal on ABC News, he was evasive about the reasons for her dismissal.

“The board has been discussing and looking at the question of Michelle’s ongoing employment over the last couple of months and the board has come to an arrangement with Michelle this morning where she leaves the business.” He told ABC News’ Joe O’Brien.

“We, after very careful consideration, felt this organisation would do better under different leadership.”

When pressed by O’Brien for what Guthrie had done to trigger her dismissal he answered: “I’m not going to go into the ‘he said, she said part of that, but that’s a view the board has come to and it’s taken the board some time to that view, but we feel we need different leadership to take us through very challenging times.”

Milne also alluded to Guthrie’s lack of support for his Jetstream digital transformation project as one of the reasons for her dismissal.

The news of Guthrie’s appointment triggered calls for Milne to stand down. The a few days later, email conversations between the managing director and chairman were leaked, leading to his resignation and the appointment of board member Kirsten Ferguson as interim chair.

During Guthrie’s tenure the ABC’s relationship with the government was fraught with the communications minister blasting the broadcaster for repeating ‘Labor lies’ over reporting by its chief political correspondent Andrew Probyn – a claim later dismissed by an internal review.

In February, the broadcaster incurred the government’s wrath over a report by chief economics correspondent, Emma Alberici, criticising proposed business tax cuts.

When the Federal budget was announced in May this year, the government revealed ABC spending cuts of $84m over three years, with a further $43m to be taken from news and current affairs. The ABC later announced up to 37 redundancies to fund content and digital platform investment. Her abrupt departure also comes as the ABC and SBS undergo an efficiency review.

Guthrie, a former Google Asia executive and CEO of Rupert Murdoch owned Star-TV in Hong Kong, joined the ABC at the end of 2015 on a five year, $900,000 per annum, contract which was cut short half way through.


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