ABC drops Justin Milne investigation

The ABC has dropped an internal investigation into allegations former chairman Justin Milne tried to interfere with editorial matters.

Yesterday Deputy chair Kirstin Ferguson told a Senate Hearing it would not proceed because Michelle Guthrie decided not to participate.

“Ms Guthrie advised in January of this year that in light of Federal Court proceedings she was not willing to participate and the board resolved it was not able to progress,” Dr Ferguson said.

An independent expert was appointed by the Board in September to investigate allegations Guthrie made about Milne’s conduct.

But while there were “protracted” discussions over the terms of reference, the investigation never actually commenced.

Communications Minister Mitch Fifield also announced  an investigation into claims of interference at the ABC headed up by Mike Mrdak, Secretary of the Department of Communications and the Arts.  Mrdak met with Guthrie, Milne and current Acting Managing Director David Anderson for his 9 page report. It failed to draw any conclusions about Board interference into editorial, or why Guthrie was sacked.

In November both Milne and Guthrie disputed details around whether the Chairman pressured her to fire journalists when appearing at a Senate hearing. Guthrie also alleged “inappropriate touching” on Four Corners by Milne, which he denied.

Guthrie’s Federal Court action ended on Friday in a confidential settlement with the board.

While The Australian Financial Review reported the figure was $500,000, sources close to the ABC say the true figure is “higher”.

Source: The Age

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