Nine chair Costello denies striking journalist

Peter Costello at Canberra Airport

Source: The Australian

Nine Entertainment chairman Peter Costello has denied striking a journalist at Canberra Airport, as he was confronted with questions about a harassment scandal at the company.

Video footage taken by The Australian‘s Liam Mendes appears to show the journalist crashing backwards to the ground after saying “Well, you’ve got to answer the questions Mr Costello”.

At Parliament House on Thursday night, after the alleged altercation, Costello said there was no assault.

“I did not lay a finger or a fist or anything else on him”.

“When I came to Canberra Airport, there was a reporter walking backwards with his phone filming.  As I walked past him, he walked back into an advertising placard and he fell over,” Costello said.

“I did not strike him, and if he’s upset about that I’m sorry, but I did not strike him”.

Costello denied he was angry at the time.

“Just like you blokes here if you’re backing back, and there’s a placard behind you, you can walk into it,” he said.

“I’ve seen it happen a million times … reporters back into the bollards and fall over, and that’s what happened”.

As the Nine chairman got into his car, Mendes asked: “Is that behaviour really appropriate to a journalist who’s working?,” The Australian reported.

“You’ve just assaulted me,” Mendes says in the footage.

“It’s all on camera.”

Mendes continues to talk to Costello.

“That was quite violent behaviour, Mr Costello,” he says.

Mendes’ reaction has been reported by The Australian.

“The video speaks for itself and you can see it on his face,” he said.

“While I was questioning Mr Costello, he started charging towards me, after which he made contact with me causing me to fall over. No journalist should ever be attacked for doing their job.”

No complaint has been lodged with police over the incident.

Costello was appointed Nine boss in 2016 after a career in politics where he served as the federal treasurer under Liberal prime minister John Howard.

Asked about the incident, Education Minister Jason Clare said it was a matter for the police but said everyone should be safe at work.

“My view is that if a journalist asks you a question, you stop and answer it,” he told Seven’s Sunrise program on Friday.

“That’s the simplest way to do it, rather than run away or say ‘no comment’ or accidentally knock somebody over.”

Opposition Leader Peter Dutton said he hoped Mendes was OK.

“Peter’s been a friend of mine for over 20 years and I’ve never seen any active aggression from him,” he told Nine’s Today show.

“There are obviously other camera angles, which I haven’t seen.

“But the Peter Costello I know is somebody who doesn’t have an aggressive bone of that nature in his body.”

The questions to Costello follow the decision by veteran Nine news director Darren Wick to quit the company in March following allegations of inappropriate behaviour.

Wick had been on leave since earlier in 2024.

More than a dozen current and former Nine employees have since spoken to Sydney’s Daily Telegraph, on condition of anonymity, with allegations of an inappropriate workplace culture at the media company.

-with AAP

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