Stan Grant: “This was an awful misunderstanding at an emotionally fraught time”

Former Q+A host admits to disagreement with colleague, but hits back at media 'smear campaign.'

Former Q+A host Stan Grant has rejected headlines of a bullying complaint after an exchange with an ABC producer in the broadcaster’s Ultimo foyer.

The Australian pursued documents under the Freedom of Information Act and alleged ‘a lengthy, expletive-laden tirade’ took place in late January with a senior colleague, in front of other staff, after they approached him with a production question.

“The Australian is not suggesting Grant committed any wrongdoing, only that a complaint was lodged and investigated,” the newspaper reported, but not filed by the person involved.

Stan Grant has since told Guardian Australia it was a story which “completely misrepresents everything, when there’s been no complaint, no finding, nothing.”

Grant did admit “he lost it” when he was approached by the colleague because he was talking to a friend about his distress about his niece dying and his father being ill.

In a post on LinkedIn, he hit back at a “smear campaign by media.”

“Earlier this year I was involved in an unfortunate disagreement with a respected colleague,” he wrote. “I was deep in conversation in the ABC foyer with a friend and colleague who was consoling me over the sudden death of my niece 24 hours earlier. I had also just returned from caring for my elderly ailing father. I was in an emotionally fragile state.

“A colleague approached me in what I and the witness felt was a confrontational manner.

“Things escalated in a way they should not and things were said that were not acceptable. I accept responsibility for this. I should have behaved better.

“In hindsight I should not have been at work but I felt an obligation to host Q+A before driving to be with my family and deliver the eulogy at my niece’s funeral.”

According to Guardian, ABC management did discuss the incident with both parties who have conflicting accounts of what took place, but there was no formal complaint. No one who witnessed the incident has described it as “bullying” but rather as a single altercation.

But Grant was also unhappy with the way ABC handled the incident.

“The ABC typically has failed to tell the truth,” he wrote. “Instead it is hiding behind bureaucracy. The ABC crafted a statement which I rejected. I believe the truth is more important.

“My family this year has been subject to horrendous racial abuse and violent threat. The ABC failed to adequately defend me. This past year I have felt used by the ABC and abused by others. This is destroying my family.

“I left the ABC because trust is broken. I left the media because I don’t believe it serves us well. It divides and it doesn’t care who it hurts. It is toxic. I have been part of the problem for too long. I am so sorry my colleague has been dragged into this. No one deserves this.

“This was an awful misunderstanding at an emotionally fraught time. This is the truth. Judge me how you wish. We should all be better. We should all expect better from the media. We should all expect the truth.”

Those comments appear to contradict remarks as he departed the broadcaster to join the Asia-Pacific arm of the Constructive Institute, based at Monash University.

“The ABC is precious to me and so are its people. For now I need to go in a different direction but I will always consider ABC family. I look forward to working with you all again some time,” he said last week.