Amber Harrison has fired a broadside at the legal system and her former employer, after she was ordered to pay Seven West Media’s six-figure legal costs for breaching a confidentiality agreement.
The former lover of Seven boss Tim Worner last week told the Supreme Court of New South Wales she would be driven to bankruptcy if she was forced to pay the network’s costs.
Speaking from Melbourne, Ms Harrison gave a frank assessment of the decision.
“Too often, our legal system and courts are used by one party to exhaust the other, when one can’t afford the fight,” she said.
Ms Harrison said the legal process — which ran for about three years — should have been finished in 2014.
“This strategy against an employee, an individual, racks up ridiculous legal bills unnecessarily,” she said.
“They knew it would bankrupt me … in the end it is regular people like you and I who end up being the victims of brutal corporate bullying and lawfare.”
Earlier, in the Supreme Court in Sydney, Justice John Sackar said he did not consider Ms Harrison’s claim of last week that she would be sent bankrupt if Seven’s costs were awarded against her.
“I am not disposed to factor in the defendant’s financial position in my determination of costs,” he said.
“Grounds for why costs should not be awarded against her is entirely unsupported by any evidence in admissible form that could be tested in court.”
Ms Harrison had already breached a costly confidentiality agreement with Seven not to talk about the affair or to release sensitive documents taken before she left the network.
This year, she has agreed to another gag order preventing her from speaking publicly about her ill-fated affair with Mr Worner or to release sensitive information about the Seven Network.
The ABC has contacted Seven to ask for a figure on the costs awarded against Ms Harrison but calls have not been returned, although they are estimated to be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Justice Sackar also criticised Ms Harrison for not reaching a deal with Seven while an opportunity existed.
“Contrary to her submissions the defendant had every opportunity to bring these proceedings to an end,” he said.
“It is a pity that the defendant did not make a realistic assessment of her case.”
‘Engulfed in a vitriolic atmosphere’
In ruling against Ms Harrison, Justice Sackar delivered a blistering critique for running a case in the New South Wales Supreme Court without any admissible evidence to support her claims against Seven.
“These proceedings have, from the outset, been engulfed in a vitriolic atmosphere,” Justice Sackar said in his published judgement.
“The allegations from both sides, whether entirely true or not, have often been personal, scandalous, and sadly ripe for media and public consumption.
“The defendant’s decision to persist in running a case without any admissible evidence to rely upon reflects a real disregard for any adverse costs consequences that naturally follow on from such conduct.”
Ms Harrison, who was an executive assistant, left Seven in 2014.
During the public spat with Mr Worner and Seven, she had often communicated through social media, although her Twitter profile now says she is “under a suppression order”.