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Nine’s review into 60 Minutes’ case to be led by former A Current Affair and 60 Minutes bosses

The former boss of Nine’s tabloid television show A Current Affair and the man who launched 60 Minutes in Australia are to lead the review in to how its 60 Minutes’ crew came to be charged with kidnapping in Lebanon, Nine network boss Hugh Marks has announced.

Former A Current Affair EP David Hurley, who retired in 2015 after spending some years acting as a key advisor former Nine CEO David Gyngell and Gerald Stone will also be joined in the review by the company’s legal adviser Rachel Launders.

Freed 60 minutes reporter Tara Brown and mother Sally Faulkner.

Freed 60 minutes reporter Tara Brown and mother Sally Faulkner.

Reporter Tara Brown and her crew were freed overnight after what is believed multimillion dollar deal was made between Nine and the Lebanese father of Australian mother Sally Faulkner’s children Ali Elamine.

The crew are expected back in Australia later today with Marks sending an email to staff this morning in which he conceded mistakes were made, writing: “At no stage did anyone from Nine or 60 Minutes intend to act in any way that made them susceptible to charges that they breached the law or to become part of the story that is Sally’s story.

“But we did become part of the story and we shouldn’t have.”

Last week authorities in Lebanon filed multiple charges against the crew, Faulkner and members of a child recovery team, among the charges was the allegation of kidnap, over their involvement in the attempt by Brisbane mother Faulkner to retrieve her two children.

“Nine will conduct a full review that will be headed by Gerald Stone, with David Hurley and General Counsel Rachel Launders, to ascertain what went wrong and why our systems, designed to protect staff, failed to do so in this case” wrote Marks.

“We will task the review with recommending the necessary actions to ensure that none of our colleagues are put in a similar position in the future.

“This has been an extraordinarily stressful time for the crew and for their families and I want to very publicly acknowledge how much they have been through and thank them for their courage, their perseverance and for the trust they placed in us to resolve events.”

Marks went on to thank the Australian government and departmental officials for their help along with a number of key staff in working to secure the Australian crew’s release.

Throughout the controversy the Nine Network has played down allegations it paid $120,000 to the agency or mother, money which is thought to have helped fund the child recovery operation.

Marks’s email did not address this point but the Nine CEO also said that he did believe child recovery and the laws governing taking children overseas remains an important area of public interest and one Nine would continue to cover.

“What has happened to Sally happens all too often and affects thousands of Australian families,” he wrote. “It is a story that not only is profoundly in the public interest but also one the public is interested in. It’s an issue that we will continue to highlight.”

The chief planner of the kidnap operation Adam Whittington and one of crew employed by him to snatch Faulkner’s children Craig Michael remain in prison in Lebanon.

Nic Christensen 

Marks’s full email to staff:

Dear All

As you would all by now be aware our 60 Minutes team, together with Brisbane mother Sally Faulkner, are out of detention and on their way home. It is an enormous relief for all involved but particularly the families and loved ones of our 60 Minutes team who have suffered a great deal over these last two weeks.

I would like to personally thank the Australian Government, the Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, the Australian Ambassador to Lebanon, Glenn Miles, and his consular staff in Beirut and staff at the Department of Foreign Affairs in Canberra for their advice and assistance.

I also pass on my thanks to our local team in Lebanon, and those who supported them from Australia (particularly Kirsty Thomson and the 60 Minutes team) who have worked around the clock in securing our team’s release.

You should know that the crew has asked me to thank the officials in Lebanon who were involved in their detention for their professionalism and for treating them with dignity and respect.

It is important to reiterate that at no stage did anyone from Nine or 60 Minutes intend to act in any way that made them susceptible to charges that they breached the law or to become part of the story that is Sally’s story. But we did become part of the story and we shouldn’t have.

Nine will conduct a full review that will be headed by Gerald Stone, with David Hurley and General Counsel Rachel Launders, to ascertain what went wrong and why our systems, designed to protect staff, failed to do so in this case. We will task the review with recommending the necessary actions to ensure that none of our colleagues are put in a similar position in the future.

This has been an extraordinarily stressful time for the crew and for their families and I want to very publicly acknowledge how much they have been through and thank them for their courage, their perseverance and for the trust they placed in us to resolve events.

What has happened to Sally happens all too often and affects thousands of Australian families. It is a story that not only is profoundly in the public interest but also one the public is interested in. It’s an issue that we will continue to highlight.

Finally, I would like to acknowledge and thank our head of news and current affairs Darren Wick who has been in Lebanon since early last week. We should all drop in to Wickie’s office when he is back and say thanks.

Hugh

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