Sacrificed or Fired? ’60 minutes’ fire producer Steven Rice over botched Beirut child abduction story – who are the true culprits, financiers or operatives?

‘…still trying to figure out if these 4 people have been sacrificed because they were caught or because snatching kids off the streets is fundamentally reprehensible’

“60 Minutes” Australia fires cracks whip over failed child abduction story about Sally Faulkner attempting to snatch her two children off the streets of Beirut, from estranged husband, Ali al Amin

Series Producer Steven Rice fired with immediate effect

Three staffers- TV presenter Tara Brown, cameraman Ben Williamson and sound technician David Ballment, receive formal warning

Independent review blame the crew:  “It’s clear from our findings that inexcusable errors were made”

rice5.jpg
In the middle: Ali al Amin and Sally Faulkner with one of the two children she was attempting to snatch

“60 Minutes” Australia has fired a producer who was involved in a child abduction story that resulted in its four-person crew being jailed briefly in Lebanon.
Stephen Rice, who produced the story about Australian Sally Faulkner’s attempts to take her two children back from her estranged husband in Lebanon, will be leaving the company “effectively immediately,” a Channel Nine statement said Friday. The program airs on the Nine network.

beirut1.pngThe failed child abduction
rice2
The Beirut 4 from Nine TV:  Cameraman Ben Williamson, Producer Steven Rice, TV presenter Tara Brown  and sound technician David Ballment – blamed for procedural errors

The other three staff members involved — TV presenter Tara Brown, cameraman Ben Williamson and sound technician David Ballment — have received formal warnings.
“The manner in which we produced Sally Faulkner’s story exposed our crew to serious risks, and exposed ’60 Minutes’ and Nine to significant reputational damage. We got too close to the story and suffered damaging consequences,” Nine CEO Hugh Marks said.
The four crew members were arrested by Lebanese authorities after they hired “child recovery specialists” in a failed attempt to snatch Faulkner’s children Lahela, 6, and Noah, 4, from a Beirut street as they walked with their grandmother.

rice6
TV presenter Tara Brown, received formal warning

According to Faulkner, her children’s father, Ali al Amin, took them from Australia to Lebanon and refused to return them. The children remain with al Amin.
The television crew members were eventually released from jail and allowed to return to Australia on April 21. Four people from Child Abduction Recovery International, who had been paid by “60 Minutes,” were also arrested with the crew and remain in custody facing charges.

rice4.jpg
Ali al Amin and the couple’s two children – The targets of the abduction attempt

The decision to fire Rice came as the result of an independent review of the story, conducted by the founding producer of “60 Minutes” Australia, Gerald Stone, as well as former producer and senior executive at Nine David Hurley, and the company’s general counsel, Rachel Launders.
“It’s clear from our findings that inexcusable errors were made,” Stone said.
Nine CEO Hugh Marks called a number of aspects of the story inappropriate but singled out the “payment to be made directly by ’60 Minutes’ to the recovery agency that had been independently contracted by Sally Faulkner.”
“It was also inappropriate, with the risks involved for our crew, not to have consulted with Nine’s security advisors before the story was finalized,” Marks said.

rice8.jpg
Brown on location with sound recordist David ‘Tangles’ Ballment

The company said in the future it would review more strictly how stories are selected and approved, and increase oversight on contracts, payments and risk assessments.
The Nine statement added that while civil claims brought by al Amin against the “60 Minutes” crew and Faulkner have been settled, the crew potentially faces legal action from the Lebanese justice system.

Let us know what you think of this article. Like? Dislike? Funny? Interesting? Cool?  Drop us a line in the comment box or join us on facebook and twitter to help us give you a better reading experience

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s