Peter Costello denies assaulting journalist in Canberra Airport

peter costello push

The video shows Mendes falling to the ground, telling Costello: “You just assaulted me.”

An altercation at Canberra Airport on Thursday evening has put Peter Costello in the spotlight, with a journalist from The Australian claiming he was pushed over by the Nine Entertainment chairman.

In a video published by News Corp, The Australian’s journalist Liam Mendes follows Costello through the airport, asking him about ­the allegations against Nine’s ex-news director Darren Wick, and whether Costello supports CEO Mike Sneesby.

The video shows Mendes falling to the ground, telling Costello: “You just assaulted me.”

Mendes recovers and continues to follow the Nine chair and former treasurer, accusing him of “quite violent behaviour”.

Costello was in Canberra for the opening of Nine’s new ‘super-bureau’, with new Nine News studios and offices.

Speaking to Nine reporters at Parliament House, Costello said: “I did not lay a finger or a fist or anything else on him,” claiming instead that Mendes was walking backwards and had tripped over.

“I have seen it happen a million times… reporters back into the bollards and fall over,” he said.

Costello’s own masthead, the Sydney Morning Herald, asked if the incident put his role at risk. “Costello gave a one-word answer: ‘rubbish,'” the Herald reported.

A Nine spokesperson added: “After arriving at Canberra Airport, the Chairman was confronted by a journalist from The Australian. In the course of filming the Chairman while walking backwards, the journalist collided with an advertising placard and fell. At no point did the chairman strike the journalist.” 

Mendes has rejected this explanation: “The video speaks for itself and you can see it on his face.

“While I was questioning Mr Costello, he started charging towards me, after which he made contact with me causing me to fall over. No journalist should ever be attacked for doing their job.”

Nine Entertainment is investigating its TV newsroom culture after multiple allegations of inappropriate behaviour were made against former national director of news and current affairs, Darren Wick.

Wick left the network in March after 29 years at the company, 13 years in the position, and more than a month away from the office. He announced his departure in a staff email seen by Mediaweek, writing: “After many long beach walks and even longer conversations, I know in my heart that this is the right time for me to step down and leave Nine.”

Wick held multiple roles over the course of his career at Nine, including executive producer of The Today Show and A Current Affair.

The allegations have put pressure on CEO Mike Sneesby, with questions raised about who – if anyone – in management knew of the complaints before Wick’s departure. 

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