Seven West boss Tim Worner is off the hook. An independent report on misconduct claims has been accepted by the Seven West Board that exonerates Worner of the accusations by Amber Harrison, a former employee, with whom he had an affair.

The allegations of credit card misuse, awarding a bonus to her, using company funds to further their relationship, having four other office affairs, using illicit drugs and improperly dealing with Harrison after she made the complaint were all without substantiation, the investigation concluded.

Harrison labeled the report a “whitewash” in a media statement and went on to describe the interviewing process as “superficial, deliberately limited in scope and designed to achieve the predetermined outcome it has delivered”. She writes that while she considers her legal options, Seven shareholders should be considering the following questions:

  • “Whether in making the claims in today’s announcement, Seven has misled the ASX and its shareholders
  • Why Seven chose to dishonour its Deeds of Agreement with me
  • On what basis are agreements entered into with Bruce McWilliam of any value when he dishonours them and then spends millions of dollars of shareholders’ funds to defend his position and threatens any media that attempt to report on his behaviour
  • Why Sheila McGregor suddenly resigned yesterday from the Board of Seven West Media on the same day that the Board received the report from Allens Linklater
  • In exonerating Tim Worner back in 2014 what did the Board know at that time and specifically what did the Chairman Kerry Stokes know and when did he know it”

A statement issued by the board today noted: “The Board is aware that there were a number of communications that passed between Mr Worner and Ms Harrison that were of a highly personal nature that used language and expressed concepts that the Board finds totally objectionable. However, the Board is of the view that the communications were consensual, personal and private in nature and were only disclosed as a result of a breach of express confidentiality obligations.”

The Seven Board concluded its statement saying it had been a tumultuous time for the entire company.

Seven did not elaborate on why Sheila McGregor, who was on the board for less than two years, resigned suddenly, saying only: “The company thanks Ms McGregor for her service to the board and wishes her well for the future.”

Her resignation comes a couple of weeks after the shock resignations of two female directors from the board of the Nine Network. The resignations of Elizabeth Gaines and Holly Kramer actually take effect from today, February 3. Gaines is moving on to become the CFO of Fortescue Metals Group Limited, and Kramer said in the statement last month that she wants to restructure her board portfolio. She is on the boards of Woolworths, the AMP and Australia Post — all top-level board positions. It seems the Nine position was the one she restructured.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey