2017 was the Year Of The Vendetta. There was Tony Abbott’s pursuit of Malcolm Turnbull’s job; everything that The Australian wrote about anything; New Matilda’s public comments about the Daily Mail (not to mention our private ones); and the Australian Christian Lobby’s hate affair with same-sex marriage.
But by far the Vendetta of the Year has to go to Channel 7, who have re-ignited a year-long battle with single foster mum Amber Harrison, all because she said some harsh (but true) things about the company.
This morning, exactly one year to the day when the former 7 executive personal assistant went public with revelations of a long-running affair with CEO Tim Worner (plus an additional joint love affair with bucket loads of cocaine, about which Worner remains eerily quiet, and 7 even more eerily uninterested), Channel 7 have dragged Harrison back into the NSW Supreme Court.
Her offence? Six benign tweets Harrison recently sent from her personal account – total followers 4,586 – which mentioned Channel 7.
That’s right, ‘mentioned’.
Unlike a year ago, on this occasion Harrison didn’t reveal any corporate secrets (like that one time Seven appeared to lie about paying the Corby’s for an interview). Instead, she was simply commenting on the ongoing saga that is the treatment of women by one of the nation’s most powerful – and, arguably, misogynistic – media organisations. Because, you know, the treatment of women has been in the news quite a bit lately.
The problem Harrison has is she is the subject of an extraordinary (and probably unprecedented) gag order issued by the Supreme Court in favour of a company which claims to uphold free speech as one of the basic principles of its operation.
Harrison is not allowed to comment publicly on anything to do with Channel 7. Literally, anything.
But Channel 7 and its directors are allowed to say as much as they like about Harrison… and as you might expect, that’s exactly what Seven West director and ‘police identikit photo in human form’ Jeff Kennett did earlier this year, immediately upon gaining the court-ordered silence of Harrison.
This is not so much a David and Goliath battle, as a pretty vulgar abuse of the legal process by a company with an army of lawyers, an insatiable thirst for litigation, and an increasingly appalling track record when it comes to its treatment of women. The treatment of former Seven cadet Amy Taeuber would be another case in point.
In any event, Channel 7 appears determined to re-commence a legal adventure that must have already returned a bill well over the $1 million mark. The court ordered the latest matter proceed to trial, in March next year.
As a little guide, for those unfortunate enough to hold Seven West Media shares, we’ve produced a graph for you, showing Seven ‘Not Hating Amber Harrison’, compared to Seven after a year of ‘Hating Amber Harrison’.
Related much? Not impossible, but unlikely, but if you’re a shareholder of Channel 7 you probably don’t care because watching your share price tank to 64 cents, you probably don’t want to know how you got there, rather how you might get out of there.
Throwing more money at suing Amber Harrison would be a little hard to justify from a company that in 2018 will shed just over $100 in million costs.
In any event, Seven might have stiffed the former PA out of the money she was owed when they parted company (hence why Harrison went public with the affair) but she can at least take some comfort from the fact she’s almost certainly been at least partly responsible for their tanking share price. And if not, then at least being responsible for causing the repeated misfiring of the synapses of the decision-makers at Seven.
On the upside, all of this would make a spectacular reality show… Channels 9 & 10 take note, because it’s doubtful Harrison could reach terms with Seven.
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