No wonder John Westacott gave his farewell interview to The Australian‘s Media section this morning. Interview? No, free kick more like.

Take these beauties from Westie (or Uncle Arthur, as he became known at Nine with his white hair). The headline said it all: “Westacott gives Nine a final flaying”:

John Westacott, the Nine Network’s director of news and current affairs, has hit out at the managers who stripped Nine of its ratings and revenue dominance as he announced he will retire after 25 years with the network.

Mr Westacott, who invented the infamous “worm” used during federal election debates while the executive producer of 60 Minutes, says Nine’s decline will be used by future management students as a study on how not to run a business.

“There’s a Harvard case study in how to muck up an unassailable business. We were in an unassailable ratings positions, we were market leader as far as advertising went and we mucked it up through a lot of bad management decisions,” he said.

“And, with the best will in the world, you can’t have all those changes of CEO and series of ‘refocusings’ without upsetting the apple cart.”

What is he on about? He was one of those managers who contributed to the decline in Nine’s News and Current Affairs dominance. Not the the biggest villain, but a major player, working with the likes of John Alexander, James Packer, David Gyngell (twice) and the unlamented Jim Rudder (disclosure: he flicked me), Eddie McGuire and Jeff Browne.

Every one of the managers Westacott now blames for the Network’s slump, he once loyally worked for.

He could have quit at any time, but didn’t. In fact Westacott, briefly became the highest paid journalist (not on air) in the country when a PBL annual report in 2005 revealed that he had been paid just over $1 million.

Westacott’s pay was so high that it featured in the section of the company’s remuneration report for the five highest paid non-director employees.

That gave rise to the phrase “A Westie”: Nine insider slang for a million dollars. Sam Chisholm cut Westacott’s money in half when he took over Nine after David Gyngell spat the dummy and quit in May 2005.

Then there were the two occasions when Westie threatened to walk to the Seven Network: once in the early 1990’s and then around the end of 2001.

And of course there’s the Christine Spiteri case. Spiteri claimed Westacott told her she should be working for SBS and made other remarks about women journalists.

She was Nine’s Los Angeles correspondent and sued for unfair dismissal, and win a reported six figure settlement according to news reports.

Another omission in today’s fawning report.

Nine Publicity sent out this presser this morning:

Nine CEO David Gyngell said that while he had reluctantly accepted Mr Westacott’s decision after 25 successful years at the network, he had pressed him to return after a break to an editorial consultancy role at Nine, which would mean his vast experience and knowledge was put to good use in his specialist fields.

“John’s been delivering for over a quarter of a century in what is a really tough and demanding industry. He boasts an impressive record across his highly successful and long-term stewardship of our flagship, 60 Minutes, together with pioneering terms at the helm of both TODAY and A Current Affair, and most recently in his role rebuilding our news and current affairs brands.

“He’s done the hard yards and he’s now entitled to a life — but he’s part of the Nine family so it’s a partial respite only, because I plan to call on his experience and wisdom in an ongoing consultancy role once he’s had a real break,” Mr Gyngell said.