A TV producer has been sacked over his involvement in a botched child-snatching operation in Lebanon. Stephen Rice has left Channel Nine’s 60 Minutes in after the Australian show’s founder and former producer Gerald Stone said the abduction attempt was “the gravest misadventure in the programme’s history”. Mr Stone made the comment as he released a damning internal review into the incident, which he said had caused “significant reputational damage” to the network. As well as Mr Rice losing his job, other staff involved in the programme received formal warnings, Channel Nine said.
We got too close to the story and suffered damaging consequences
Channel Nine CEO Hugh Marks
Producers paid a so-called child recovery agency to snatch an Australian woman’s two children back from her estranged Lebanese husband. But after the agents grabbed the children off a Beirut street, the four-member TV crew and the children’s mother Sally Faulkner were jailed on kidnapping charges. They have since returned to Australia under an agreement with the father, Ali al-Amin. The review highlighted a string of failures on the part of the producers and violations of internal policies. "It’s clear from our findings that inexcusable errors were made,“ Mr Stone said.
The 60 Minutes soundman gets a formal warning, but senior show executives get off scot free for child abduction fiasco. Bizarre
Veteran Australian newsreader Hugh Riminton