60 Mins Accused Of Scapegoating Following TV Apology
Child recovery agent Adam Whittington, who remains in a Lebanese jail after a botched kidnapping involving a 60 Minutes crew, says he and his team have been used "as a scapegoat and fuel" by the Nine Network.
The network on Sunday night aired an apology segment on "how things went so horribly wrong" with the bungled story, after releasing a review on Friday.
Senior producer Stephen Rice has been sacked over the affair and three other staff formally warned after the network found "inexcusable errors" were made which landed four 60 Minutes staff behind bars in Beirut.
Founding producer Gerald Stone, who led the review, said the failed mission to return Sally Faulkner's children to Australia in April was "without a doubt the greatest misadventure in 37 years of 60 Minutes".
He said those involved had blurred judgment and got their priorities wrong.
But there was scant mention of Mr Whittington, who has been moved from a jail in Tripoli to Aley Prison on the outskirts of Beirut.
His lawyer, Joe Karam, on Sunday sent a statement to AAP from his client reacting to Nine's internal investigation into the affair.
Mr Whittington said Nine had abandoned him and others recruited for the mission and had moved to "settle the matter without us", resulting in the release of the Australian TV crew and Ms Faulkner from jail.
"We were kept as a scapegoat and fuel that burned for this channel's investment projects," he said.
Mr Whittington said the Nine report deleted the fact that others had been contracted to work on the Beirut project and that Nine could have helped them but instead excluded them from the settlement.
Beyond outlining his role in the attempted kidnapping, 60 Minutes said very little about Mr Whittington on Sunday night.
"There is an ongoing criminal case in Lebanon involving our crew and the child recovery team led by Adam Whittington and for legal reasons we're not able to say any more about that," 60 Minutes journalist Michael Usher said.
He said mistakes were made in the planning and execution of the story.
"We sincerely apologise for our serious mistakes," he said.
"Sadly, we have damaged the reputation of a great TV program. What's important is to learn from the mistakes, and we are committed to doing that."
Mr Stone said everybody involved in the program appeared "emotionally committed" to Ms Faulkner's case, which clouded their judgment.
He said blame for the bungled story lay with Mr Rice.
"That's why he is a producer, because he should take the blame when things go wrong."
The apology segment didn't explicitly canvass the ethics of 60 Minutes paying for the child recovery agency to carry out the attempted kidnapping.
AAP; Photo: AAP