Seven West Media CEO Tim Worner has expressed regret and shame after details of a relationship with a former employee emerged overnight.
But he is staying put as company CEO.
“This relationship finished some years ago and I apologised at the time, and am still trying to make amends,” he said in a statement.
“I am obviously filled with the deepest regret and shame. My focus is to continue to work through this in private and minimise the distress to my family. They are the most important people in the world to me and I will continue to fight to repair the damage I’ve caused.”
Late today Seven issued a statement (below) following a day of media articles and allegations by former Pacific Magazines employee Amber Harrison. It denies some of the details that have emerged in a feeding frenzy of media articles and vows to withhold payments agreed to in a confidentiality settlement.
Seven’s share price was down 8.6 per cent on Monday afternoon, a drop of nearly $100m.
The Board of Seven West Media Limited (Seven) met today in response to the allegations made by a former employee which contain wide-ranging inaccuracies and false statements.
The fact is a confidential settlement deed was entered into more than two years ago with the former employee, Ms Amber Harrison, who was represented at the time by Harmers Lawyers who (Seven understands) have since ceased acting on her behalf. The settlement deed was approved by the relevant board committee of Seven and continues to be binding.
Seven agrees that the inappropriate consensual sexual relationship made public by Ms Harrison is deeply regrettable and the Chairman has always made clear to Mr Worner that the alleged conduct, even though a personal matter, was completely unacceptable.
Separately, Tim Worner apologised at the time and now, for the inappropriate consensual relationship with Ms Harrison, that commenced prior to his appointment as chief executive, and has been working with the Board and Executive to ensure this improper behavior is not a part of Seven’s culture.
Mr Worner said: “This relationship finished some years ago and I apologised at the time, and am still trying to make amends. I am obviously filled with the deepest regret and shame. My focus is to continue to work through this in private and minimise the distress to my family. They are the most important people in the world to me and I will continue to fight to repair the damage I’ve caused.”
In relation to the Company’s enquiries into Ms Harrison’s credit card account, it was noted that concerns regarding misuse of her corporate credit card and personal expense claims she charged to Seven, arose from standard expense reconciliation enquiries prior to management and the Board being made aware of the relationship. These were then confirmed in a report carried out by an independent firm of accountants engaged at the request of the audit committee. Allegations by Ms Harrison that this was a vindictive reaction to the misuse of her credit card or arose other than from normal process and policy are rejected.
Confidentiality (including mutual non disparagement) was agreed by both sides in the interests of both sides who were the subject of the allegations, which were resolved on a “without admissions” basis. The payment, agreed to be made to the former employee in instalments, took into account her solicitors’ strong assertions regarding her needs and fragile emotional stability and were designed to enable her to move on with her life.
Seven is entitled to withhold payment for non compliance with the settlement deed.
The former employee failed to progress her complaint in the Australian Human Rights Commission.
Allegations made in her statement which name other employees are rejected totally, including any allegation that other current or former employees have been paid off.
Tim Worner will continue as chief executive.