Alex Turnbull getting into an Uber outside his parent's Point Piper Mansion on Thursday evening. Picture: Hollie Adams/The Australian
Alex Turnbull getting into an Uber outside his parent's Point Piper Mansion on Thursday evening. Picture: Hollie Adams/The Australian

ABC reporter suspended after Turnbull complaint

THE ABC has been thrown into further turmoil following Michelle Guthrie's dismissal, with a senior journalist now the subject of a two-month investigation following a complaint by Malcolm Turnbull's son.

Alex Turnbull rang and demanded answers from former chairman Justin Milne after unaired parts of his interview with veteran presenter Emma Alberici were leaked, according to Fairfax Media.

Journalist Peter Lloyd, who is a senior correspondent at the broadcaster, denies leaking audio of Mr Turnbull, a Singapore-based hedge fund manager, which was published in the Australian Financial Review.

ABC TV journalist and foreign correspondent Peter Lloyd.
ABC TV journalist and foreign correspondent Peter Lloyd.

Mr Lloyd said he sent it to his personal email so he could access the file from home.

During Senate estimates over the past two weeks, the public broadcaster said no formal complaint was made and that Mr Milne didn't raise the complaint with management.

Mr Turnbull confirmed he did call Mr Milne following the leaking of his unaired comments, admitting he said he would make a formal complaint if it was not investigated. Mr Lloyd was suspended in September.

Alex Turnbull getting into a car outside his parents Point Piper Mansion on Thursday evening. Picture: Hollie Adams/The Australian
Alex Turnbull getting into a car outside his parents Point Piper Mansion on Thursday evening. Picture: Hollie Adams/The Australian

"I wanted it dealt with but I didn't want to start World War III," he was quoted by Fairfax as saying.

"I pointed out the nature of how these records are stored and how easy it is to check who accessed them."

The Financial Review, who reportedly heard the audio, claimed Mr Turnbull "stumbled" and was "uncharacteristically cautious" when asked if he was accusing Gina Rinehart of having extreme influence within the Liberal Party.

That was "up for people … to look it up", Mr Turnbull reportedly said.

It was first investigated by the broadcaster's human resources division however the ABC has now tasked in-house counsel Loch van den Berg with the probe.

It puts the already tense relationship between the Turnbull family and the taxpayer funded broadcaster under the microscope.

Mr Milne, a telecommunications veteran, was appointed ABC chairman in April 2017, and was known to be a good friend of Malcolm Turnbull.

Former ABC chair Justin Milne, former Managing Director Michelle Guthrie and former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull in August this year. Picture: Alex Ellinghausen
Former ABC chair Justin Milne, former Managing Director Michelle Guthrie and former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull in August this year. Picture: Alex Ellinghausen

In May this year, the former Prime Minister filed a complaint against journalist, Ms Alberici. Fairfax claimed Mr Turnbull sent a list of 11 grievances regarding a TV story about research and innovation spending.

After managing director Guthrie's shock sacking in late September, Mr Milne stepped down only three days later after a leaked email revealed he had pushed for Ms Alberici to be fired from the ABC following Mr Turnbull's complaint.

It also emerged he called for political reporter Andrew Probyn to be sacked.

"They [the government] hate her," Milne reportedly wrote in the email dated May 8.

"We are tarred with her brush. I think it's simple. Get rid of her. We need to save the ABC - not Emma. There is no guarantee they [the Coalition] will lose the next election."

Mr Lloyd was once jailed for 10 months after being arrested on drug charges in Singapore.

An ABC spokeswoman told Fairfax Media: "ABC News management was at no time contacted by the former chairman [Mr Milne] on this issue, nor was aware he had any interest in the matter.

"The former managing director [Ms Guthrie] also did not raise this as an issue. The ABC has received no editorial complaints relating to the interview or the subsequent reporting on it from any politician or member of the public."



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