Seven West Media chief executive Tim Worner will remain in his job after an investigation cleared him of explosive misconduct allegations made by a former employee with whom he had an affair.
An independent review of allegations of credit card misuse, drug use and vindictive behaviour, made by former executive assistant Amber Harrison, has concluded the claims are not supported.
But Ms Harrison was quick to hit back at the finding, calling it a “joke” resulting from a “superficial” investigation which gave men at the company a “green light to prey on female staff”.
Ms Harrison said the “the lesson for women was don’t work for Seven West Media and don’t expect to be treated equally or with respect”.
Male executives at Seven West Media have just been given a green light to prey on female staff, and if there is any objection Seven will smash you with their legal juggernaut.”
Seven West’s board said there were no grounds to take any further disciplinary action against Mr Worner, who is married, beyond the action which was taken in 2014 when the company became aware of his affair with then-employee Amber Harrison.
“The board has addressed all the issues that have been raised and is confident that Mr Worner will continue to run the company in the interests of all shareholders,” the company said in a statement on Friday.
The board, which includes former Victorian premier Jeff Kennett, former publishing executive John Alexander and former Essendon Bombers chairman David Evans, said while communications between Mr Worner and Ms Harrison were “totally objectionable”, the relationship was “consensual, personal and private”.
“Mr Worner did not influence, nor play any role, in the awarding of the bonus to Ms Harrison other than signing the letters which informed her, and other executive assistants, of their bonus,” the statement said.
“There were no irregularities in Mr Worner’s corporate credit card use.”
The statement also said allegations of illicit drug use by Mr Worner could not be substantiated.
The announcement of the report findings comes a day after director Sheila McGregor suddenly resigned from the Seven West board.
Ms McGregor is a partner at Gilbert + Tobin Lawyers in Sydney and an experienced commercial adviser.
Her departure was announced after the close of market on Thursday, with no reason given.
Mr Worner’s relationship with Ms Harrison, which ended in 2014 before he became CEO, became public knowledge in December when Ms Harrison contacted numerous media outlets with details of the affair and allegations that she had been treated vindictively by the company.
- An earlier version of this story incorrectly identified board member John Alexander as a sitting federal MP.