News

Seven wins latest case against Amber Harrison, as she is found in contempt of court

Amber Harrison, the former lover of Seven West Media CEO Tim Worner, has suffered another defeat in the NSW Supreme Court with Justice Pembroke finding her guilty of contempt.

Despite finding Harrison had breached orders made after her court loss last year, the judge expressed some sympathy for her breaching the court’s orders saying: “Unfortunately for her, I can sympathise, but I cannot excuse.”

Despite some sympathy from the court, Harrison suffered another legal loss

While the judge found Harrison was in contempt, he did not impose a penalty or award any costs against her as Seven had not sought either in its application to the court.

In a statement, a Seven spokesperson said: “Seven notes the court has found the defendant in contempt. We note our action was only to enforce the existing Supreme Court orders and we trust now that no further action will be necessary.”

Harrison’s legal battles started after she spoke out about her affair with Worner while she was the PA to then CEO of Seven West-owned Pacific Magazines, Nick Chan.  In response, Seven West accused her of misuse of company funds which saw the dispute escalate into a media war of words.

Worner was later cleared of most of the misconduct alleged by Harrison in a report commissioned by the company board.

Seven won all of the subsequent court battles, however judges have previously been critical of the network’s public conduct with Justice McDougall of the NSW Supreme Court citing Seven West chairman Kerry Stokes and board member Jeff Kennett early last year for engaging in a “welter of accusation and counter accusation” and observing: “I do not think the war Mr Kennett waged was well advised.”

The case also saw blogger Shane Dowling jailed for contempt after he breached suppression orders obtained by Seven West Media preventing publication of the names of other Seven employees Harrison alleged had been in relationships with Worner.

Harrison’s legal losses threatened to bankrupt her and she launched an unsuccessful Go Fund Me campaign to raise funds to cover her costs.

In his ruling, Justice Pembroke was clear that Harrison had breached the July 2017 orders, specifically Order 1, which prevented her from discussing the company, her relationship with Worner or the case itself with the press or on social media.

On the day after the orders were made, Harrison appeared in an interview on the ABC’s 7.30 current affairs show when she discussed the case which the judge said was “in language with which many might be tempted to agree”.

The ruling said:

“I am quite satisfied that the defendant contravened Order 1 on multiple occasions. Lawyers like to call it ‘contumacious disobedience’ but it simply means that the defendant’s conduct was wilful. She was angry, perhaps understandably so, and felt that the court system had let her down and that the plaintiffs had bullied her. What she did and why she did it are perspicuous. Unfortunately for her, I can sympathise but I cannot excuse.

The defendant’s contempt consisted of statements made by her on television and radio; in tweets published by her; and in interviews given by her to the press. The precise events and sequence of publications are set out in the Statement of Charge. The content of the publications is set out in a lengthy affidavit by the plaintiffs’ solicitor. There is no dispute about them. They have already been made public. And there is no point in repeating the detail of them.

The substance of the defendant’s complaints is well known. In her first interview, she said, with some justification, that this dispute started as a ‘spat between two people’ but that it had turned into something different. She said that Seven Network signed her into agreements then did none of them; that she didn’t get the money and the deal fell apart. She then added, in language with which many might be tempted to agree, that ‘My case is a lesson in how many ways you can screw a girl. The boys club has shown that they are still – for now – in control, but we can change that’.

The other publications were in a similar vein and to similar effect. As I said, I can sympathise but I cannot condone. Each of the publications itemised in the Statement of Charge was a clear contravention of the Court orders made on 17 July 2017. The plaintiffs are therefore entitled to the declaration that they seek.”

While Justice Pembroke did not impose any punishment on Harrison, he noted: “If the defendant commits future breaches of the orders of this Court, the fact of this declaration will be taken into account.”

Timeline of Amber Harrison’s legal battle with Seven:

19 December: Seven boss Tim Worner’s affair with staffer exposed as legal battle rages over payments

19 December: Seven West Media says Tim Worner will stay as boss as shares fall $100m over scandal

22 December: Seven West Media board orders inquiry into CEO Tim Worner’s sex scandal

23 December: TV stars launch court bid to keep names out of Tim Worner scandal

3 February: Seven West Media board clears CEO Tim Worner of misconduct following probe

3 February: Amber Harrison fires back, claiming Seven’s probe into CEO’s conduct gives green light for men to ‘prey on female staff’

10 February: Amber Harrison tweets emails between Worner and Seven board members relating to AFP raids

13 February: Seven takes out injunction against Amber Harrison to stop release of confidential documents

15 February: Seven earnings down as Worner delivers first results since Harrison scandal revealed

15 February: Worner returns to the public eye bullish on Seven but apologetic as Stokes steps in to take media heat

21 February: Seven and Harrison head back to court as Fairfax and News ask for injunction to be dropped

21 February: Amber Harrison vowed ‘reign of terror’ over Tim Worner, but Seven wins bid to have injunction extended

22 February: Judge criticises Stokes and Kennett over Amber Harrison media attacks

7 April: Tim Worner’s decision to quit Swans board increases pressure on Seven

28 April: Seven and Amber Harrison ordered into mediation by Federal Court

7 July: Amber Harrison concedes defeat in legal fight with Seven

17 July: Amber Harrison loses battle against Seven West Media as court orders her to pay costs

17 July: ‘I’m not going to pay it’: Amber Harrison warns she is unable to foot Seven’s legal bill

10 August: Amber Harrison blogger, Shane Dowling, jailed over contempt of court

16 August: Amber Harrison launches GoFundMe campaign to pay Seven’s legal bills

ADVERTISEMENT

Get the latest media and marketing industry news (and views) direct to your inbox.

Sign up to the free Mumbrella newsletter now.

 

SUBSCRIBE

Sign up to our free daily update to get the latest in media and marketing.