Television icon Don Burke claims he is a ‘sitting duck’ who is under attack because he had to ‘fire some employees’ during his 17 years on Burke’s Backyard.
The 70-year-old has been accused of sexually harassing and indecently assaulting a number of women who worked on his gardening program in the 1980s and 1990s.
He said he was ‘deeply hurt and outraged’ by the ‘baseless’ claims, which he claimed were made by former employees with grudges against him.
Burke also rejected comparisons to disgraced Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein – which he said were ‘intended to severely damage (his) reputation’.
Television icon Don Burke claims he is a ‘sitting duck’ who is under attack because he had to ‘fire some employees’ (pictured with former producer and harassment accuser Bridget Ninness)
Burke also rejected comparisons to disgraced Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein
A joint investigation by the ABC and Fairfax Media has catalogued a series of allegations against Burke by more than 50 former employees of Burke’s Backyard.
Former researcher Louise Langdon accused Mr Burke of harassment and groping. Bridget Ninness, a former producer, accused Burke of bullying and crude behaviour.
‘The bitter irony is that I have had a lifelong opposition to sexism and misogyny. Burke’s Backyard was a lone bastion of anti-misogyny from its inception in 1987,’ Burke said in a statement.
Burke has reportedly hired defamation expert Patrick George, a senior partner of Kennedys Australia.
A joint investigation by the ABC and Fairfax Media has catalogued a series of allegations against Burke (centre) by more than 50 former employees of Burke’s Backyard
Louise Langdon (left) and Wendy Dent (right) both made sexual harrassment claims against Burke
In his statement Burke described himself as ‘a classic sitting duck’ because he not only presented the program but ran the production company behind it, meaning he inevitably had to fire some employees.
He said he chose many women, including nutritionist Rosemary Stanton and award-winning author Jackie French, to be on his program because they were the best in their field.
‘My staff and I regarded the CTC productions workplace as being a very safe workplace and I am very happy to provide female and male witnesses to affirm this,’ Mr Burke said.
Nine said it had procedures to deal with such allegations.
‘We have had in place for some time now robust policies and procedures for dealing with complaints and to support our staff in such circumstances,’ Nine said in a statement.
Former children’s entertainer Wendy Dent (pictured) claimed Burke told her she could interview for a part on his TV show if she did so topless