‘VILE, VILE HUMAN BEING’: Don Burke ‘calls in the lawyers’
AUSTRALIAN TV star Don Burke has been accused of indecent assault, sexual harassment and bullying of women during his time as the star of Channel Nine's iconic Burke's Backyard.
A joint ABC/Fairfax investigation reportedly revealed that Burke was a "psychotic bully", a "misogynist" and a "sexual predator" who sexually harassed, indecently assaulted and bullied a number of female employees.
The claims were reportedly from a number of women who worked with Burke in the late 1980s and 1990s.
"He was a vile, vile human being," the Sydney Morning Herald reported Bridget Ninness, a former producer on Burke's Backyard, as saying. "He was lewd and he was crude" and his constant talk of sex was "designed to confront you and to demean you", she said.
Burke has denied the accusations. In a written response to the Sydney Morning Herald, Burke denied "absolutely" claims he was bully. He reportedly said that because he was a "perfectionist", "a small number" of former employees were dismissed either for underperformance or misbehaviour. Some of these people "still bear a strong grudge against me", he said.
It comes as Burke allegedly called in a top defamation lawyer over the allegations.
Patrick George - the author of the 2012 textbook Defamation Law in Australia - reportedly told Daily Mail Australia he was acting for Burke.
Burke is best known for the long-running Burke's Backyard, which ran for 17 years until getting cancelled in 2004.
Burke's company, CTC Productions, also produced the hit show Backyard Blitz.
Burke has been a long-running fixture on theAustralian media scene and still regularly appears on TV and radio to offer gardening advice.
There is no suggestion of any wrongdoing by Burke, just that he has, according to Daily Mail Australia, turned to a lawyer specialising in "reputational risk" of 35 years experience to handle recent inquiries.
Mr George is described online as a senior partner at the law firm Kennedys Australia.
The Kennedys website said he is "an expert in all areas of reputational risk and dispute resolution".
Mr George has acted for former prime ministers, state premiers, celebrities, actors, models and sporting figures, the website said.