Tara Brown, 60 Minutes Crew Back On Home Soil
Reporter Tara Brown and the rest of her 60 Minutes crew have spent their first night at home since their two-week ordeal in a Lebanon jail.
Brown, producer Stephen Rice, cameraman Ben Williamson and sound recordist David Ballment touched down in Sydney about 10pm on Thursday after flying from Beirut via Dubai.
Shielded from the media throng by Rice, a beaming Brown expressed relief as the crew was escorted to a waiting van.
“I’m so glad to be home,” she told reporters.
Ballment said he was looking forward to “a shower and seeing my wife”.
Nine Network has launched a review into the botched story that led to the four being jailed – along with Brisbane mother Sally Faulkner – for 14 days on kidnapping charges.
Tara Brown is officially free. Joins her 60 Minutes colleagues in a van headed for Beirut Airport pic.twitter.com/SudA5euSgq— Tom Steinfort (@tomsteinfort) April 20, 2016
Chief executive Hugh Marks told staff it was an “enormous relief” to have the crew home, but said they should have never become “part of the story”.
The 60 Minutes crew was arrested filming Ms Faulkner’s attempt with a child recovery team to snatch her two children with estranged husband Ali Elamine off a busy Beirut street and take them back to Brisbane.
The internal inquiry will “ascertain what went wrong and why our systems, designed to protect staff, failed to do so in this case”.
Nine has declined to comment on reports it hired and paid professional kidnappers on Ms Faulkner’s behalf, or paid Mr Elamine compensation as part of the release deal brokered on Wednesday.
A few words from Tara Brown and the 60 minutes crew as they head through media pack to waiting vans pic.twitter.com/RyNRbAZCOc ( Amy_Greenban— Sky News Australia (@SkyNewsAust) April 21, 2016
But the head of the child recover team, Adam Whittington, remains behind bars and documents have emerged that appear to back his claims that Nine paid him directly to retrieve Ms Faulkner’s children.
The ANZ document, released to AAP by Whittington’s lawyer, Joes Karam, appears to show a direct payment of $69,000 from the Nine Network to the child recover company.,
Dated January 22, 2016, the “payment detail report” notes the fee drawn from the network’s account is for “investigation into my missing child”.
“This is the first instalment of two payments that were given to my client by Channel 9,” Mr Karam told AAP.