SES crews hit the ground to continue search.
SES crews hit the ground to continue search.

Morcombes 'sorry' for sacked staff

2.30PM UPDATE: BRUCE Morcombe has expressed sympathy for the reporters sacked after being involved in a fake live cross to the search for his son's remains at Beerwah.

Mr Morcombe described the so-called 'Choppergate' as a storm in a teacup.

“My only opinion is that the TV industry ... we’ve learnt is full of smoke and mirrors and really our life has bigger issues than to worry about those sorts of things,'' Mr Morcombe told the Daily today.

"We genuinely see it (Choppergate) as a storm in a teacup and feel quite sorry for the loss of those people’s jobs.

"But we’ve got bigger fish to fry. In the scale of our lives it’s fair dinkum just a dot point at the bottom. We’re waiting on serious bone and shoe analysis and the search resuming, and also just managing the foundation.”

The two journalists and a producer sacked by Channel 9 have indicated they could take legal action.

Channel 9 released a statement on Thursday night saying the action had been taken following a full internal investigation.

"QTQ Director of News, Lee Anderson, has tendered his resignation and three Nine employees have been dismissed in the wake of the misrepresentation by Nine News of QTQ helicopter’s location during two live reports last weekend,'' the statement said.

"These actions follow a full internal investigation of the incidents ordered by Nine Network Managing Director, Jeffrey Browne, and conducted this week by Nine Queensland Managing Director, Kylie Blucher and Nine’s Director of News and Current Affairs, Mark Calvert.

In a letter Mr Anderson said: “This morning I tender my resignation as Director of News accepting full responsibility for the events of the last few days. I have served this network to the best of my ability for almost 25 years. It has been a privilege and I wish the team all the very best.”

Subsequently, Nine management dismissed Nine News Reporters Cameron Price and Melissa Mallet, and QTQ News Producer Aaron Wakely.

However, Brisbanetimes reported that Mr Price last night took to Twitter to express his outrage at the sacking, raising the prospect of legal action.

He told his 1020 followers: "Thanks for all the support. I believe what happened today is completely unfair .. And I am seeking advice on the matter."

Mr Price also changed his personal description to: "Walkley and Clarion (Queensland Media Award) nominated Journo. With a clear conscience."

This morning, Mr Wakeley joined Mr Price in expressing his frustration publicly, also via Twitter, and saying he was seeking legal advice on the matter.

“Thanks for all the support,” he wrote.

“It has been a trying week. I’m stunned by what’s been allowed to happen, and all the misinformation."

Kylie Blucher and Mark Calvert said in a joint statement:  “This has obviously been a very difficult process, but our primary consideration was always Nine News’ commitment to accuracy.

"This is critical not only to our charter, but to maintaining the trust we have developed with our audience over a very long period. “

While Mr Anderson’s resignation was accepted, and his decision was the right one in the circumstances, they acknowledged his long and distinguished service with Nine.

Jeffrey Browne said: “Our position is unequivocal. We rightly demand accountability and high standards of others, and we must meet those expectations ourselves.

"Over the weekend, we did not. Our clear determination is to ensure that sort of conduct is never repeated, and we have drawn a very clear line in the sand by removing the staff involved in in that breach of trust with our viewers.”

Further, newsroom procedures and lines of communication have been reviewed, resulting in immediate changes to QTQ’s news gathering guidelines. 

All News staff will receive further training on their editorial, legal and code obligations.


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