The Walkley Foundation has announced that it will engage William Houghton KC to provide independent legal advice concerning the awarding of the 2021 Walkley Award for Television/Video News Reporting to Peter Fegan and Rebeka Powell, Nine News 6pm, for a series of television news reports entitled ‘The Investigation of Andrew Laming”.
The Walkley Foundation says it considers that there are particular circumstances to be considered in respect of this award and subsequent litigation concerning one of the reports.
The particular report, which accused former Liberal National MP Andrew Laming of taking lewd photographs, was the subject of a defamation case by Dr Laming against Nine Entertainment. The case ended in a confidential settlement which saw Nine agree to pay the former MP an undisclosed amoount in compensation and issue a public apology.
The Walkley Foundation says interested parties in relation to this particular Award have been invited to provide materials in respect of whether the Award should be revoked, annulled or there should be some other outcome.
The Foundation, which has administered journalism awards in Australia since 1956, will receive privileged and confidential advice from William Houghton KC, deliberate and consult on any outcome in respect of the Award before announcing any decision.
In addition, separately from William Houghton KC’s advice, and any action that may be taken in respect of the aforementioned award, the Walkley Foundation announces that it will conduct a separate process to review the organisation’s complaints mechanisms utilising the skills of a panel of senior independent experts.
Walkley Foundation chief executive Shona Martyn says: “The Walkley Foundation has an existing internal process for the review of any complaints about its awards.
“While it is our practice to regularly review all aspects of the awards, at this time we have resolved to consider whether we should tighten our policies and procedures to make sure we have the most rigorous processes in place to ensure our charter of excellence and the highest ethical standards of journalism.”