The chief executive of Nine Entertainment Co, Hugh Marks, has written to colleagues this morning following the release from jail of Tara Brown and her 60 Minutes colleagues.
“It is an enormous relief for all involved, but particularly the families and loved ones of our 60 Minutes team who have suffered a great deal over these last two weeks,” said Marks in an email to staff.
“I would like to personally thank the Australian Government, the Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, the Australian Ambassador to Lebanon, Glenn Miles, and his consular staff in Beirut and staff at the Department of Foreign Affairs in Canberra for their advice and assistance.”
Marks also thanked the Nine team who went to Beirut to work to free the jailed news team.
“I would like to acknowledge and thank our head of news and current affairs Darren Wick who has been in Lebanon since early last week. We should all drop in to Wickie’s office when he is back and say thanks.”
Marks also noted the work back in Sydney by 60 Minutes EP Kirsty Thomson and her team.
The Nine boss added the 60 Minutes‘ crew asked him to thank the officials in Lebanon who were involved in their detention for their professionalism and for treating them with dignity and respect.
Addressing the legalities of the role the TV show played in the real life drama, Marks said: “It is important to reiterate that at no stage did anyone from Nine or 60 Minutes intend to act in any way that made them susceptible to charges that they breached the law or to become part of the story that is Sally’s story.
“We did become part of the story and we shouldn’t have.”
Nine meanwhile confirmed this morning it will conduct a full review that will be headed by 60 Minutes Australia founding executive producer Gerald Stone, with former A Current Affair executive producer David Hurley and general counsel Rachel Launders, to ascertain what went wrong and why the broadcaster’s systems which, designed to protect staff, failed to do so.
Marks explained: “We will task the review with recommending the necessary actions to ensure that none of our colleagues are put in a similar position in the future.”
Marks reminded Nine staff what an extraordinarily stressful time it has been for the crew and for their families. “I want to very publicly acknowledge how much they have been through and thank them for their courage, their perseverance and for the trust they placed in us to resolve events.
“What has happened to Sally happens all too often and affects thousands of Australian families. It is a story that not only is profoundly in the public interest but also one the public is interested in. It’s an issue that we will continue to highlight.”