Senator calls for audit of ABC payment for ‘upskirting’ tweet
A federal liberal senator has asked the auditor general to examine ABC’s decision to pay the smear costs of star reporter Louise Milligan after she was sued by federal liberal MP Andrew Laming for a series of tweets alleging that he had taken an “upskirting” photo of a woman.
Liberal Tasmanian Senator Eric Abetz, a vocal critic of the public broadcaster, wrote to Auditor General Grant Hehir this week requesting that he review the “appropriateness” of the $ 79,000 damages plus legal costs paid by ABC to Dr. Laming. to solve the case.
The announcer was not part of the lawsuit, and Dr. Laming sued Milligan for tweets he made from his personal account that suggested he had admitted to the crime of taking a photo “under the skirts” of a woman’s underwear. woman.
Dr. Laming took a photo of a 29-year-old woman without her knowledge, while she was in a pose that exposed her underwear on top of denim shorts. Dr. Laming says the woman was kneeling and that the photo was “completely dignified.” The woman’s co-worker confronted Dr. Laming and demanded that he delete the photo immediately. The woman made a formal complaint to the police, but no charges could be brought because “there was no evidence to indicate a crime.”
Dr. Laming claimed that he was defamed on the false accusations that he took a photo “under her skirt” and committed the crime of “upskirting.”
Senator Abetz said ABC had not explained why it had compensated the reporter when the defamation case was unrelated to her reports.
“ABC’s attempt to justify these substantial costs and paying damages to its own ‘ABC luvvies’ with public funds has clearly failed the test of public opinion,” Abetz said. “Now is the time to prove the legality and appropriateness of these substantial payments of taxpayer funds for private purposes. Therefore, I have written to the Auditor General requesting his determination. ”ABC declined to comment.
Milligan agreed to pay Dr. Laming $ 79,000 in damages plus legal costs in early August. Although the national broadcaster did not publish the tweets and Dr. Laming did not sue her, the national broadcaster decided to cover Milligan’s costs, citing “particular and exceptional circumstances.”
Before the deal, ABC boss David Anderson warned employees who were legally responsible for their personal social media accounts. He also said they could face disciplinary action under the ABC Code of Conduct for their posts, but there is no suggestion at the time that Milligan is or was facing such action.