‘Fight continues’: Lattouf-ABC hearing ends in stalemate

Sacked journo takes up her fight against ABC

Sacked radio host Antoinette Lattouf has vowed to “keep fighting” after mediation failed to resolve her wrongful dismissal case against the ABC.

“The matter did not resolve today but the fight continues and I am willing and prepared to fight for as long as it takes,” Lattouf said on Thursday afternoon, after unsuccessful mediation at the Fair Work Commission in Sydney.

Lattouf, an award-winning Lebanese-Australian journalist was three days into a five-day stint in December, filling in for ABC Sydney’s Mornings host Sarah Macdonald, when she was sacked.

She was reportedly fired over a Human Rights Watch post she shared on social media on December 19 about Israel “using starvation of civilians as a weapon of war in Gaza”.

The ABC says the post breached a directory not to share her views on “matters of controversy”. It denies Lattouf’s race or political opinion influenced the decision.

Lattouf said on Thursday the case was about free speech, racism, the role of journalists, and a fair, independent and a robust ABC.

“I love [the] ABC and I will always advocate and fight for an ABC that can operate and inform the masses, inform and entertain the masses without fear or favour,” she said.

Her legal team is seeking a detailed public apology and compensation for harm to her reputation, distress and humiliation. Lattouf also wants an order that the ABC offer her a commensurate role on air.

But after Thursday’s hearing, the case is at a stalemate.

It has already caused ructions across the national broadcaster, with journalists in Sydney threatening to walk off the job earlier this week amid concerns of “outside interference” and issues in the ABC’s handling of complaints against staff.

Members of the journalists’ union have sought an urgent meeting with managing director David Anderson.

On Wednesday, he sent a statement to all ABC staff that – without mentioning Lattouf – said the organisation’s independence was of paramount importance to the role it performs for the Australian public.

“The ABC rejects any claim that it has been influenced by any external pressure, whether it be an advocacy or lobby group, a political party, or commercial entity,” it said.

“That applies to all decisions made across the organisation, including in relation to content, where the ABC’s editorial policies provide strong direction on independence and other crucial matters.”

Anderson said the ABC was “the most scrutinised media organisation in Australia” and “takes legitimate criticism, feedback and complaints seriously”.

“The ABC also takes very seriously our responsibility to champion diversity and inclusion in order to accurately reflect the community we serve, both in our content and as an organisation,” it said.

It follows the emergence of leaked texts from a private WhatsApp messaging group, showing discussion between Lawyers for Israel members, including a call to action to pressure Anderson and ABC chair Ita Buttrose to sack Lattouf.

The messages were published by the Nine newspapers.

Stay informed, daily
A FREE subscription to The New Daily arrives every morning and evening.
The New Daily is a trusted source of national news and information and is provided free for all Australians. Read our editorial charter
Copyright © 2024 The New Daily.
All rights reserved.