Sued: Ray Hadley. Photo: Louise Kennerley
Talkback host Ray Hadley is being sued for allegedly bullying a junior colleague at 2GB radio station.
A statement of claim against Hadley was lodged in the District Court of NSW on Friday, and it is understood his lawyer has been served papers.
When I do get wound up I can be a bit scary.Ray Hadley
The claim alleges that Hadley deliberately inflicted psychological harm on Richard Palmer, a digital content manager at 2GB. Fairfax Media has not seen the statement of claim, which the District Court is refusing to release. But the court confirmed Mr Palmer’s claim was lodged on Friday.
Rob 'Duck Creek' Smith: The man who allegedly guarded the door. Photo: Supplied
It is understood Hadley is also facing allegations of "false imprisonment" because a colleague guarded the exit to Hadley’s office while the radio host verbally abused Mr Palmer.
Mr Palmer, who has engaged high-profile media lawyer John Laxon, is understood to be suing Hadley personally, rather than Hadley’s employer, the Macquarie Radio Network.
Mr Palmer declined to comment, as did Hadley's lawyer. The radio host did not respond to questions from Fairfax Media, but released a statement to News Ltd in which he expressed his disappointment over the action.
"The action arises out of an incident that occurred in February this year in my office and which was reported in detail at the time and, more recently, on the ABC's Australian Story program. Following the incident, I sincerely and openly apologised to Mr Palmer and the staff at 2GB," he reportedly said.
"Mr Palmer remained employed at 2GB and working at our Pyrmont offices for some time afterwards and I had hoped he had accepted my apology and we could resolve the situation and work well together in the future. It is disappointing he has chosen to pursue legal action seeking damages against me."
The alleged bullying incident happened on the morning of February 7, when Hadley called Mr Palmer into his office. The top-rating host was angry because Palmer had not uploaded a podcast of The Ray Hadley Morning Show quickly enough onto 2GB's website.
When Hadley began verbally abusing Mr Palmer, the website manager is understood to have opened the voice recording application on his phone. It is believed Mr Palmer secretly recorded Hadley because he was concerned about a threat to his employment.
The secret recording of Hadley's bullying is understood to have disgusted Macquarie Radio Network’s managing director, Rob Loewenthal.
On Tuesday, February 12, Mr Loewenthal took the extraordinary step of suspending Hadley for the bullying incident. An email was circulated to staff explaining that the radio host would be off the air for the rest of the week.
Well placed sources at 2GB told Fairfax Media that Hadley phoned the network’s majority owner, John Singleton, who then overruled Mr Loewenthal’s decision. However both Hadley and Singleton deny there was any intervention on Hadley’s behalf.
What is known for certain is that Mr Loewenthal’s decision was overruled. On Wednesday, February 13, Hadley was back on air and has been presenting his show ever since.
That Wednesday morning, Hadley appeared to brush off the incident, telling listeners: “Sometimes in the hurly-burly of life of radio, just like other organisations and families, people have disagreements. It's part of life. The relationship between myself and the executives of this station will always survive any disagreement we might have … So let's get back to business.''
But after two days of intense media pressure over the incident, Hadley relented. On Friday, February 15, 2GB staff gathered in the boardroom to hear the radio host apologise for the bullying.
“I addressed the staff and there were more than 100 gathered,” Hadley said in a May interview on ABC’s Australian Story.
“I firstly apologised to them for the discredit I had brought to the radio station in the past week through my behaviour… It’s hard to change when you get to my stage of life but in some respects I’ll have to change I guess because the workplace in 2013 is far different from the workplace in 1983”.
Hadley admitted on the show that Singleton was “appalled” by his treatment of Mr Palmer.
“When I do get wound up I can be a bit scary,” Hadley said.
“I think to a certain extent that I’m a bit of a dinosaur and I’m viewed that way by many people that I still blow up occasionally, sometimes inappropriately.”
It is understood Mr Palmer has been working from home for 2GB since February 14.