Farmer struggling over Seven debt

A drought-affected farmer who lent his helicopter to Channel Seven to film a story, which subsequently crashed, has been left more than $300,000 out of pocket.

Greg Taylor, from Borrona Downs station near Broken Hill, was flying a Seven cameraman around in December 2006 when, he claims, the camera strap became wrapped around the controls, plunging the chopper into the ground.

“We were lucky; we could have been killed,” Mr Taylor told the Sunday Telegraph.

The chopper was valued at $180,000 and it was written off.

“The cameraman, Sean Mulcahy, and Channel Seven were very reassuring. They said, `Don’t worry, we’ll put this right.'”

Thirteen months later, Mr Taylor hasn’t received a cent and in a double blow, was hit with a bill for $60,550 to pay for the damaged camera.

“At first, the Seven people begged me, `Don’t talk to anyone, don’t go legal, we’ll sort this out!'” he said.

He claims Seven offered him some money and a case of beer to go away, provided he signed a document saying he wouldn’t sue.

“I think they offered me $20,000, but that’s how much money I lost in the first week.

Hit hard by the drought, Taylor’s only income stream was from helicopter flying, “and I lost all that work,” he said.

It took him 12 months to raise the finance to buy a new chopper, for $300,000.

“I’ve been advised to take them to court, but the bottom line is they’d eat me up, because I can’t afford it – and they know that.”

Chris Willis, news director of Seven News Sydney, said he was unaware, until the network was contacted by The Sunday Telegraph, of the insurance claim.

“We’ve rung him today and offered him an indemnity against any claim from the insurance company representing the cameraman,” Mr Willis said.

“We’ve offered to help him with the replacement of his helicopter and that offer is still on the table. But I think he wants more than we’re offering.”

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