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Nine chair accused of knocking over reporter

Nine chair Peter Costello has been captured on camera in a confrontation with a journalist at Canberra Airport. Picture: The Australian
Nine chair Peter Costello has been captured on camera in a confrontation with a journalist at Canberra Airport. Picture: The Australian

The chair of Nine and former federal treasurer Peter Costello has been accused of knocking over a reporter who was trying to question him over the broadcaster’s recent scandals.

The Australian’s Liam Mendes approached Mr Costello at Canberra airport on Thursday afternoon.

Video footage taken by Mendes shows Mr Costello ignoring several questions over the handling of the axing of former Nine News director Darren Wick before he appears to shove the journalist out of the way.

Mendes had asked Mr Costello why he hadn’t publicly expressed his support for Nine chief executive officer Mike Sneesby since The Australian revealed Wick had been the subject of a serious allegation of sexual harassment just prior to his resignation.

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The journalist asked: “Mr Costello, my name is Liam Mendes from The Australian, do you support Mr Sneesby as CEO and his handling of the Darren Wick saga?”

Mr Costello ignored the question and kept walking through the airport.

Mr Costello then appeared to make physical contact with Mendes and The Australian reporter can be heard saying, “Don’t, don’t”, before he falls to the ground.

Journalist Liam Mendes ended up on the ground after the incident with Mr Costello. Picture: The Australian
Journalist Liam Mendes ended up on the ground after the incident with Mr Costello. Picture: The Australian
Nine chair Peter Costello has been captured on camera knocking a journalist to the ground during a scuffle at Canberra Airport. Picture: The Australian
Nine chair Peter Costello has been captured on camera knocking a journalist to the ground during a scuffle at Canberra Airport. Picture: The Australian

The video shows Mendes lying on the ground, saying: “You’ve just assaulted me.”

The Australian said two witnesses backed up the account.

“I just saw this guy attack … and then I saw him (Mendes) on the floor with his shit everywhere and then he (Costello) just went on his way, wandered off,” Mark O’Hare, who was at the airport to pick up his brother, said.

A Nine spokesperson told NewsWire: “After arriving at Canberra Airport, the Chairman was confronted by a journalist from The Australian.”

“While walking backwards, in the course of filming the Chairman, the journalist collided with an advertising placard and fell,” the spokesperson said.

“At no point did the Chairman strike the journalist.”

Mr Costello moments before Mendes fell. Picture: The Australian
Mr Costello moments before Mendes fell. Picture: The Australian

Mr Costello echoed the response when asked about the incident by reporters later that night.

“I did not strike him and if he’s upset about that I’m sorry. But I did not strike him.

“I wasn’t angry, just like you blokes here if you’re backing back and there’s a placard behind you, you can walk into it.”

“I’ve seen it a million times in Parliament House before: reporters backing into bollards and fall over, and that’s what happened.”

Asked if his chairmanship of Nine Entertainment was at risk, Mr Costello replied: “Rubbish”.

“No assault, as I said before he was backing backwards, he hit an advertising placard. I did not lay a finger or a fist or anything else on him,” he said raising his voice.