Senator Jacquie Lambie has referred an email by Seven reporter Robert Ovadia to the Australian Federal Police, she told the Senate yesterday, after he sent an “unsolicited email” to one of her staff containing what Lambie said could be construed as a veiled threat. Under parliamentary privilege, Lambie said the email read: “Words spoken today will not be forgotten.”
“I will let the Federal Police assess whether or not it is a veiled threat from Mr Ovadia — but I am not playing games with the safety of my staff,” Lambie said.
It isn’t Lambie’s only beef with Ovadia, who won a Walkley award for his reporting of the Jedi Council sex scandal in the Australian Defence Force in 2013. An early report by Ovadia, Lambie said, used “false information illegally leaked to him by unknown criminals in the Defence Force” to cause “significant harm to retired Lieutenant Colonel [Karel] Dubsky and his family”. Dubsky was the most senior Defence Force member forced to resign over the scandal, though it later emerged he hadn’t opened the emails with homemade porn attached (filmed without the consent of the woman involved and shared among army colleagues). Dubsky was cleared of any involvement with the Jedi Council. His command, however, was never restored. Lambie has been championing his case for some time, urging an apology to Dubsky, whose name she has claimed was “illegally leaked” to the media. In Parliament yesterday, Lambie said:
“Ovadia initially produced an unbalanced, sensationalist and factually incorrect report after he was played for a fool by people in Defence who illegally leaked information about the Jedi Council and Karel Dubsky to him. He went on to correct the record in other award-winning reports, but the damage was already done. You will recall that Karel Dubsky has survived two suicide attempts and six months of electroshock therapy, takes 24 tablets a day and is fighting hard to make a new life for his family after being used as a scapegoat and a career stepping-stone by General David Morrison and, to some degree, journalist Robert Ovadia.”
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Ovadia, Lambie says, also sent a “terse” email to Dubsky, “a man in a fragile mental state”. Lambie says she doesn’t want further contact with Ovadia unless he is willing to reveal his sources to her.
In a statement issued last night, Seven news boss Craig McPherson fired back that “the only reason that Australians including Senator Lambie are aware of the Australian Defence Force cover up of this story is because of Robert Ovadia’s exceptional and tenacious journalism”:
“Seven is profoundly disappointed that Senator Lambie has used Parliamentary privilege to malign the professional and personal reputation of one of our senior journalists. Her claims are without any foundation.
“Rob Ovadia has an industry wide reputation as a journalist and known as being of the highest integrity.
“We flatly deny the suggestion that any threat was made to staffers in Senator Lambie’s office and will fully co-operate with any AFP investigation.”
— Myriam Robin