Shock jock Ray Hadley leaving work at Pyrmont after the verbal abuse claims had been made. Photo: Anthony Johnson
Macquarie Radio Network executive chairman Russell Tate accused his star radio announcer Ray Hadley of being a "psychotic bully", while managing director Rob Loewenthal described the coverage of Mr Hadley's alleged bullying of 2GB producer Richard Palmer as "a f--king disgrace", a court has heard.
In proceedings brought by Mr Palmer, the NSW District Court has also heard that Mr Hadley, who is one of Sydney's top rating radio announcers, told Mr Palmer on February 7 that "I'll tell you f--king what, and this is not leaving this office, if you repeat it, I'll f--king deny it," in an expletive-laden tirade recorded by Mr Palmer.
The evidence was aired during a November 29 preliminary hearing, where Mr Palmer's lawyers sought an order for Mr Hadley to explain why he failed to provide relevant material sought by subpoena. Mr Hadley's solicitor Justine Munsie was cross-examined. Mr Palmer is suing Mr Hadley alleging intentional infliction of emotional harm, assault, false imprisonment and negligence. Mr Hadley has denied the claims.
MRN Director Russell Tate. Photo: Louie Douvis
The hearing is likely to be next year and the parties will next meet on Thursday for a status conference.
Macquarie suspended Mr Hadley from his top rating morning radio program in February after Mr Palmer complained about an alleged tirade he had been subjected to by the shock jock. Mr Palmer recorded Mr Hadley's outburst and is believed to have played it back to the network's management.
Mr Hadley was dramatically reinstated after the personal intervention of Macquarie's majority shareholder John Singleton. He subsequently apologised to 2GB staff for his behaviour. Mr Palmer later initiated proceedings against him.
It is understood that Macquarie has asked Mr Hadley to pay his own legal costs in the case brought by Mr Palmer.
The recent court hearing relating to the subpoena heard of correspondence not provided by Mr Hadley, but later provided by MRN under a separate subpoena, including an email from Mr Tate to Mr Hadley in which Mr Tate described Mr Hadley as "a psychotic bully". Mr Tate also suggested that Mr Hadley's behaviour in the workplace had been unlawful and criticised Mr Hadley for taking advantage of his direct line to Mr Singleton.
The court also heard that Mr Loewenthal sent Mr Hadley, by email, the wording of an apology that Mr Hadley was to deliver to 2GB staff. Mr Hadley replied to the email saying that he'd prefer not to read the apology aloud because it would look too contrived, and that he was "sitting there rehearsing it".
Ruling last week, Justice Robert Sorby did not agree to make the order sought by Mr Palmer. He accepted Ms Munsie's evidence about Mr Hadley's attempts to locate documents, including her evidence that Mr Hadley was "not very good with emails". He did not infer that Mr Hadley has further documents to be produced. But because of Mr Hadley's "tardiness in producing the documents" he ordered him to pay Mr Palmer's costs for the motion.
The rancour between station management and Mr Hadley raises questions about his future at the station, which is heavily reliant on his dominant morning ratings, and those of breakfast host Alan Jones.
MRN, which is heavily exposed to the Sydney market, has been in talks over a possible merger with Fairfax Media, publisher of this article, whose radio division operates competitor 2UE in Sydney as well as a national AM capital city network.
The emails appear to confirm speculation that Mr Tate has found dealing with Mr Hadley challenging.
Nielsen's final radio ratings of 2013 showed Mr Hadley again leading his morning timeslot with a 16.8 per cent market share, up 1.1 per cent.
Mr Palmer has been on medical leave and is now working from home.