Amber Harrison, the former executive assistant who famously went public over an affair with Channel Seven executive Tim Worner, is facing a potential jail term after lawyers for the network launched contempt proceedings against her.
On July 17 Ms Harrison was effectively banned from ever making public comments about her former employer Seven West Media or her relationship with the CEO, Mr Worner after Seven was successful in obtaining a permanent gag order against her.
This week Channel Seven launched contempt proceedings against Ms Harrison, listing a dozen breaches that Ms Harrison is alleged to have committed in defiance of court orders.
Ms Harrison lasted only one day before allegedly breaching those orders. Channel Seven’s lawyers claim that on July 18 Ms Harrison appeared on the ABC’s 7.30 to complain that she had been forced to air details of the affair after the network reneged on a deal to pay her.
Ms Harrison left the company in 2014 after signing two deeds, which provided for a series of payments totalling hundreds of thousands of dollars to be made to her on the condition she refrained from speaking publicly about the affair or the company and that she hand over electronic devices and records.
Seven told the NSW Supreme Court in July it stopped the payments after Ms Harrison did not comply.
“These proceedings have, from the outset, been engulfed in a vitriolic atmosphere,” said Justice John Sackar in his July judgment in which Seven successfully sought a permanent gag order against Ms Harrison.
“The allegations from both sides, whether entirely true or not, have often been personal, scandalous, and sadly ripe for media and public consumption,” noted Justice Sackar.
In its latest salvo against the Melbourne-based Ms Harrison, Seven alleges that on July 20, three days after signing the order, Ms Harrison was interviewed on ABC Radio in Melbourne.
“Well I committed to the court that I would obey a suppression order, it is a very wide-ranging suppression order, it excludes me from the conversation about all things Channel Seven,” she said.
Asked what would happen if she breached it, Ms Harrison replied: “I am liable for imprisonment or sequestration of property.”
In September, when the ABC’s 7.30 reported that Seven had fired a young Adelaide TV journalist Amy Taeuber, after she allegedly complained about an older male colleague harassing her, Ms Harrison used Twitter to post links to a number of stories dealing with the matter.
One of the many tweets Seven’s lawyers have complained about includes one Ms Harrison posted on November 27.
“No chook prize for guessing what Boardroom this happened in – the fish rots from the head at @sevenwestmedia.” Her tweet linked to an article on Amy Taeuber.
Seven’s lawyers also claim that another act of contempt was committed on December 1, when Ms Harrison told The Australian newspaper “she would not stop tweeting and was less frightened of going to jail than being silenced.”
Seven has asked that the matter be expedited as Ms Harrison has indicated that she does not intend to comply with the orders of the court.
The matter is listed for a directions hearing on December 18, the anniversary of Ms Harrison deploying what Justice Sackar described as “the nuclear option” in going public about her steamy affair with Mr Worner.
In a statement issued in response to Justice Sackar’s judgment in July, Seven said it welcomed the decision and “[looked] forward to putting this matter behind us”.
This seems unlikely.
As Ms Harrison tweeted earlier this week: “You will not find any instance of me comparing myself to the victims of assault. I speak about challenging (despicable) bullies who use money and power to intimidate and crush – and encouraging you to do the same. To thy own self be true :”