The Seven Network has reacted angrily to a police raid of its offices over a potential interview with Schapelle Corby, slamming it as an “outrageous” attack on the media.
Seven broadcast the federal police raids on its Sydney offices on Tuesday morning after much speculation about a lucrative deal for Corby for her first interview since her release from a Bali jail.
In a statement, the Australian Federal Police confirmed it had “executed a number of search warrants in Sydney in relation to an ongoing Proceeds of Crime Act matter”.
Seven’s commercial director Bruce McWilliam labelled the raids a gross overreaction.
“They barged in wanting to look at the payment registers which is completely outrageous,” he told News Corp Australia.
“It’s a big attack on the press. It’s terrible what’s happening.”
You’ve got some heavy-handed goon who thinks they can just come storming in.
News Corp is reporting that a senior federal government minister called Mr McWilliam to apologise for the raids.
Mr McWilliam says the network was last week served a proceeds of crime production order, which required it to hand over documents to authorities.
He says the documents were handed over immediately.
“You’ve got some heavy-handed goon who thinks they can just come storming in and terrorise people who are trying to carry on their duties,” he said.
New Idea magazine, which is owned by Seven West Media also had its offices raided.
The glossy magazine is rumoured to be part of a deal with Corby and Seven.
Veteran Seven journalist Mike Willesee said earlier the police would not find a thing about alleged payments to Corby.
“The first thing I want to say about the Australian Federal Police raid is that it will finally nail the lie of the $2-million-dollar payment that’s been repeated and repeated in the Australian media,” Mr Willesee told reporters.
Corby is on parole in Bali, and there have been threats from Indonesian authorities she could be jailed again if she does a paid, tell-all interview.
“We’ve positioned ourselves to be the first in line if there is an interview. There is no deal,” Willesee said.
“(The raid) will find nothing. They will find no payment because there is no payment.”
The AFP gave away little in its statement.
“As this matter is ongoing, it is not appropriate for the AFP to comment any further,” it stated.
Corby last week was released on parole in Bali.
Seven reporter Damien Smith broke the news of the raid on The Morning Show on Tuesday morning, saying it was “pretty tense times here” with at least a dozen AFP officers raiding the Seven West Media headquarters.
It’s believed the AFP raided the Jones Bay headquarters then the network’s Redfern base then the Martin Place offices.
Seven also reported it was “no secret that Sunday Night has been the front runner in seeking rights to get an exclusive interview with Schapelle Corby following her nine years in jail”.
“This search warrant has come at a time when it’s a very delicate situation. The Indonesian officials are telling Schapelle that ‘you do an interview and you could very well go back to jail’,” Mr Smith said.
Seven said the network was cooperating but it was clear AFP officers were “not comfortable with our cameras being there”.
“We have heard that the AFP may well be here for the next 24 hours. A very complex investigation.”