Morrow tells court producer tried to ‘blacken’ his name

We’re sorry, this service is currently unavailable. Please try again later.

Advertisement

Morrow tells court producer tried to ‘blacken’ his name

By Samantha Hutchinson and Stephen Brook

Former Chaser host Julian Morrow says Cordell Jigsaw producer Nick Murray set out to “blacken” his name in a series of emails and legal threats to the ABC after a venture between the pair producing The Checkout was dissolved.

In the NSW Supreme Court on Monday, Morrow detailed how he was left “deeply distressed” after learning Murray had called him “the new millennium’s Steve Vizard” - a reference to the controversial TV producer - and had made assertions in emails to ABC managers that he had acted deceptively and was difficult to work with.

The cast of the ABC’s The Checkout.

The cast of the ABC’s The Checkout.Credit:ABC

“It adds to the distress knowing that things like this have been said to the managing director of the organisation to which I have devoted most of my career,” Morrow, who is a presenter on the ABC’s Radio National, told the court.

Morrow is suing the production house and Murray alleging defamation and a contract dispute over a terms-of-share sale agreement. Morrow started the action when the ABC discontinued talks on reviving The Checkout following a slew of legal threats from Murray, who had sold his firm’s stake in the program to Morrow.

Loading

Cordell Jigsaw and Murray have rejected the claims, claiming truth, honest opinion and qualified privilege as a defence - and a unanimous belief inside the production house that Morrow should not have been allowed to profit for a production that the organisation believed it should have been part of. The defence raises a number of points to argue Morrow is difficult to work with. The defence also rejected claims Murray implied to ABC managers that Morrow had acted unlawfully or deceptively.

On Monday, the court heard about an email Murray had sent to the ABC managing director David Anderson and the head of entertainment and specialist Michael Carrington in May 2019 in which he said he was surprised after he heard “a rumour” that The Checkout had been recommissioned for a seventh season. Morrow had not mentioned he was in negotiations about reviving the show which he had produced in partnership with Cordell Jigsaw for six seasons, Murray said.

“Given the way that Julian Morrow behaved when the show was put into hiatus, we also assumed there would be no chance of the show returning,” the producer said.

“Many of the key Checkout team have indicated their reluctance to work on the series without a circuit breaker protecting them from Julian. (For instance, even Craig [Reucassel] has in the recent past asked that I take over from Julian.) I will no longer be that circuit breaker as Julian has asked [Cordell Jigsaw] to leave that company.”

Advertisement

In the same email, Murray mentions that he believes Morrow could have potentially breached his duties as a director of a company jointly controlled by Morrow’s Giant Dwarf production house and Cordell Jigsaw.

“Accordingly, if the show proceeds, it is likely to be the subject of litigation which will probably result in ABC documents and correspondence between Julian and the ABC being subject to subpoena.”

Morrow said he had been “very shocked” to see the allegations put in the email by Murray which seemed “not to convey the reality of the situation, they seemed designed to blacken my name at the ABC”. His legal team also highlighted how the threat of legal action from Cordell Jigsaw and Murray had prompted the ABC to discontinue any discussions of reviving The Checkout.

The case continues.

The Morning Edition newsletter is our guide to the day’s most important and interesting stories, analysis and insights. Sign up here.

Most Viewed in National

Loading