A cache of deleted tweets have laid bare the tensions inside Network Ten’s Canberra bureau amid a bitter legal battle between a female reporter and her bosses.
Political reporter Tegan George, 37, is suing Ten in the Federal Court over the ‘toxic bullying culture’ she claims to have endured while in Canberra working with The Project’s Peter van Onselen.
Daily Mail Australia can exclusively reveal tweets Ms George fired off about the time of the alleged incidents which appear to show the journalist was apparently taking swipes at her co-workers on social media.
In her lawsuit, filed in the Federal Court recently, Ms George accused political editor van Onselen, 46, of sabotaging her career and trying to make a star out of rival reporter Stela Todorovic to ‘get back’ at her.
Political reporter Tegan George, 37, is suing Ten in the Federal Court over the ‘toxic bullying culture’ she claims she endured in Canberra.
She’s accused The Project’s Peter van Onselen, 46, of sabotaging her career and trying to make a star out of rival reporter Stela Todorovic to ‘get back’ at her
The tensions came to a head after George claimed to overhear sexist remarks by two men about a female colleague, understood to be Todorovic, that she reported internally.
However, she texted bosses at Ten on May 10 to tell them she did not want to make a formal statement about the incident.
George alleges she soon came under intense pressure to take part in the investigation and claims she was threatened with disciplinary action if she refused.
At the height of the internal row, George appeared to have mocked Todorovic in a tweet to her 25,000 followers – before she later axed her account.
‘I have now nominated Stela Todorovic for an internal 10NewsFirst award for her bravery and commitment to the truth,’ she wrote on May 19, 2021.
Later that day, she tweeted a pic of her pet dog Lil Smoosh and added: ‘When I tell her about my day, sometimes we connect over our pure dislike of ignorant people.’
Newly resurfaced tweets (pictured) from the time of the incident seem to show Ms George was also taking swipes at her co-workers on social media
Two days earlier, she posted another tweet, apparently in reply to criticism of the way she phrased a story on TV that day but was felt by some to be an attack on van Onselen.
It followed his public defence of his longtime friend Christian Porter over historical allegations of rape against the former attorney-general, which he denies.
‘For those upset about the “respected pharmacist” line (in her story)… I personally feel it is important,’ she tweeted on May 17.
‘I think a lot of women are sick of hearing “respected” men in their lives say they don’t associate with “those kinds of men” who commit DV crimes.’
The previous week, the Queensland born-and-bred reporter rued leaving Ten’s Brisbane office where she was allowed to bring her dog to work.
‘Workplaces are just so much better with dogs. I miss my Brisbane boss who used to let me bring Lil Smoosh into the newsroom,’ she tweeted with dog and heart emojis.
Ms George posted a tweet, apparently in reply to criticism of the way she had phrased a story on TV that day, but which was felt by some to be an attack on Peter van Onselen (pictured)
The tweet followed Ten’s political editor’s public defence of his long-time friend Christian Porter over historical allegations of rape against the former attorney-general, which he denied
The previous week, the Queensland born-and-bred reporter had rued leaving Ten’s Brisbane office where she had been allowed to bring her dog into work
She followed up the tweet with a shout out to all her ’10 family’, name-checking network stars including Sandra Sully and Angela Bishop, but missing Ms Todorovic and van Onselen
She followed up the tweet with a rollcall shoutout to all her ’10 family’, name-checking network stars including Sandra Sully and Angela Bishop.
But Todorovic and van Onselen are conspicuously absent from the list of names.
Just a few weeks later, George went on leave, claiming the row left her ‘vomiting, unable to sleep and stressed to incapacity’ and has not returned to work since.
The following month, she tweeted a story on the sexism row over claims Olympics chief John Coates ordered Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk to attend the Tokyo Games opening ceremony.
Ms George tweeted a story on the sexism row over Olympics chief John Coates ordering Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk to attend the Tokyo Games opening ceremony
Reuters framed the story as ‘Coates pulls rank’ on Palaszczuk, while other outlets attacked the Australian Olympic Committee president for his alleged condescending disrespect.
Ms George tweeted the link with the caption: ‘Ahh that’s your take? Given those I’ve worked with though… perhaps not that surprising.’
The tensions came to a head after Ms George overheard sexist remarks by two men about a female colleague, understood to be Ms Todorovic, which she reported internally
Labor activist Vanessa Badham replied: ‘SERIOUSLY?’ and Ms George snapped back: ‘You have no idea…’ with a sad face emoji.
The lawsuit also claims her script of a federal government scoop was sent to Health Minister Greg Hunt’s office behind her back, prompting him to demand changes and ruining her exclusive.
But another tweet from earlier in May showed George letting rip at the minister on Twitter.
Retweeting another tweet about a media statement from the minister’s office, George tweeted: ‘This release came through after midnight. Utter bulls**t.’
She tagged in the minister’s personal Twitter account in the tweet.
Another tweet from earlier in May shows Tegan George letting rip at health minister Greg Hunt on Twitter
She raged at an unnamed political staffer in another tweet from 2020
Another tweet from 2020 about an unnamed political staffer raged: ‘Oh and to the advisor who just text me – if you had bothered to establish a relationship with me, you would know I don’t give a s*** about what party you’re from.
‘I was simply trying to ascertain facts – which you claimed you didn’t know.’
The tweets emerged as Ten lodged its defence to George’s legal claim. She had alleged in court documents that:
- She was told to apologise to van Onselen for complaining about having to write his stories
- Van Onselen refused to talk to her and communicated by text message
- She was made to move desks so van Onselen could prove he was the boss
- She accused him of being ‘rude, intemperate, condescending and patronising’
- She was snubbed for invites to van Onselen’s coffee meetings with other staff and felt her Kennedy award nomination for her bushfire coverage was overlooked
George’s lawsuit claims she was also told by TV executives that van Onselen was ‘bats**t crazy’ and ‘didn’t give a s**t how she was feeling’.
The lawsuit alleged the ‘toxic’, ‘bullying’ culture at Ten’s Canberra bureau between 2019 and 2021 ‘reduced Ms George’s standing and reputation as a journalist’.
Tegan George’s legal action claims she was also told by TV executives that van Onselen was ‘bats*** crazy’ and ‘didn’t give a s*** how she was feeling’
‘Ms George was subjected to workplace gossip, Ms George’s standing in the workplace was reduced and Ms George was denied the quiet enjoyment of her profession,’ the statement of claim alleged.
Van Onselen is one of several senior employees named in the lawsuit, which claims Ten failed to provide a safe working environment for her at the Canberra bureau.
Ten denies the allegations and its defence documents, seen by Daily Mail Australia, called many of her claims ‘vague and embarrassing and liable to be struck out’.
Key to Ten’s defence is the text message she allegedly sent on May 10, 2021, to Canberra bureau chief Achim Bormann.
‘Hey, just so you know, I told HR I will not be giving a statement, speaking to them or participating in their “investigation” in any way,’ George is alleged to have texted.
‘If it was something I wanted to take further, I would have said something in the moment.
‘Or even in the week after. I need to do what I expect others would afford me in the same situation. See you tomorrow…’
Peter Van Onselen (pictured) is one of several senior employees named in the lawsuit, which alleges Ten failed to provide a safe working environment for her at the Canberra bureau
Ten insists van Onselen was rarely in Canberra while George was working there and she was only asked to write 10 of his 200 reports during that time as part of her duties.
The company claimed the desks were only swapped to improve the bureau’s running and her new desk was not inferior.
Van Onselen simply did not know about George’s award nomination, Ten’s defence documents claimed.
They also explained George reported to Ten’s executive editor Anthony Murdoch, not van Onselen.
George’s lawyers declined to comment on the latest tweets, but previously rejected suggestions she did not report the sexual harassment comments.
Josh Bornstein, of Maurice Blackburn lawyers, said: ‘Any suggestion that Ms George refused or failed to report an incident of sexual harassment is false.’
The case continues.