The press gallery journalist behind the explosive ‘toxic bullying’ allegations at Network Ten has become a virtual recluse and withdrawn from the public spotlight.
Tegan George filed a lawsuit last week claiming The Project’s Peter van Onselen, 46, sabotaged her career and tried to make a star out of another reporter to ‘get back’ at her.
Van Onselen 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.
Ms George, 37, has been on leave since last June after the court documents claim the experience left her vomiting, unable to sleep and ‘stressed to incapacity’.
The award-winning journalist has cut off the outside world in the wake of her alleged ordeal, but ABC and Guardian reporters and foes of van Onselen are rallying around her.
Tegan George (pictured) the press gallery journalist behind the explosive ‘toxic bullying’ allegations at Network Ten has become a virtual recluse
Tegan George posted a cryptic message on Instagram late last year (pictured) with a snap of a lounge room with just an air mattress on the tiled floor and her pet dog Smoosh on a mat
Late last year Ms George posted a cryptic message on Instagram with a snap of a lounge room with an air mattress on the tiled floor and her pet dog Smoosh.
‘You can either stay in an unhealthy situation or you can start over,’ she captioned the photograph. ‘Both hurt. Both are hard.’
With emojis of a glittering heart and a shooting star, she hashtagged the posted #showupforyourself.
She pulled down the shutters on the Instagram account in November with a picture of a lonely hut in a chilly wintry woodland scene.
Ms George admitted she was going into digital hiding ahead of the blockbuster lawsuit against Network Ten and van Onselen.
She is also believed to have ditched her longstanding mobile phone number and replaced it with one known only to close friends and family.
Tegan George pulled down the shutters on the Instagram account in November with a picture of a lonely hut in a chilly wintry woodland scene (pictured)
Tegan George filed a lawsuit last week claiming The Project’s Peter van Onselen (pictured) sabotaged her career and tried to make a star out of another reporter to ‘get back’ at her
‘I’m taking a small break from social media and will only be contactable on my new phone,’ she posted on the pic of the shed.
Ten TV veteran Chris Bath replied to the post: ‘Short breaks in the wilderness are bloody wonderful like you are.’
Ms George has also pulled the pin completely on her popular Twitter account which had 25,000-plus followers.
She deactivated the account, despite a pinned video tweet of her grilling PM Scott Morrison over Brittany Higgins’s rape allegations being viewed 500,000 times.
Ms George has also locked down her Facebook account, restricting all access to only her closest friends.
Tegan George (pictured) has also pulled the pin completely on her popular Twitter account which had 25,000-plus followers
The Queensland-born and bred reporter is declining media requests for interviews and her legal firm Maurice Blackburn is refusing to comment on her behalf.
Ms George joined Ten in 2011 and worked in their Brisbane office before moving to the Canberra Parliamentary bureau in 2019.
In 2017, she posted a viral video of a misogynist tradie abusing her and her friends as he sat behind them at the Manny Pacquiao versus Jeff Horn boxing match in Brisbane’s Suncorp Stadium.
She bravely confronted the loudmouth thug after he called them ‘c***s’, ‘b***hes’, and told them ‘f*** off’.
Brisbane tradesman Courtney Innes (left, right) is pictured in a video uploaded to Twitter by journalist Tegan George
Tegan George, centre, bravely called out the loudmouth for his abuse and uploaded an 18 second video of the man (top right) launching into the tirade
Plumber Courtney Innes was banned from all Queensland stadiums for two years for the foul-mouthed outburst after he was kicked out of Suncorp by security.
Ms Tegan’s parents still live in regional Queensland and she is believed to have been spending time with them while she recovers from Ten’s alleged ‘toxic, bullying’ culture.
She has received messages of support from colleagues at ABC and The Guardian as well as workmates at Ten.
ABC TV’s 4Corners reporter Louise Milligan, who was sued by van Onselen’s friend Christian Porter over historical rape allegations which he denied, spoke up for her online.
‘Hoping Tegan George is OK,’ she tweeted. ‘Without commenting on the particular circumstances here, it’s always difficult for women to take on their employer in these sorts of cases.
‘When it’s as high-profile as this, it’s a huge undertaking.’
A fundraiser set up by former Get Up and Change,org director Sally Rugg to help cover the cost of Ms George’s legal action against the TV station has already raised almost $50,000.
A fundraiser set up by former Get Up and Change,org director Sally Rugg (pictured) to help cover the cost of Ms George’s legal action has already raised almost $50,000
It has hundreds of donations ranging from $25 to $2000 from supporters including cash from Ten reporter Lachlan Kennedy and Studio 10 host Narelda Jacobs.
It also includes a $200 donation from Professor Gemma Carey who received a defamation threat from van Onselen, over a now deleted eight-word tweet involving a throwback picture of van Onselen and Porter.
A separate fundraiser for Prof Carey’s legal fund raised almost $250,000.
Ms George’s fundraiser was given a push by Guardian journalist Amy Remeikis who confronted van Onselen on live TV last month over his comments attacking Grace Tame for her unsmiling meeting with the PM.
Channel 10 Political Editor Peter van Onselen found himself under attack after labelling Grace Tame ‘ungracious, rude and childish’ following her awkward encounter with Scott Morrison (pictured) at The Lodge last month
‘It takes incredible courage to stand up to your employer,’ tweeted Ms Remeikis with a link to the campaign.
‘If you’re in a position to help (and I know many can’t and that’s completely fine – your well wishes count too) here’s a fundraiser which has been set up on behalf of Tegan.’
The full explosive details of the legal action against Network Ten have been revealed in papers released by the Federal Court and obtained by Daily Mail Australia.
In the full statement of claim, Ms George alleges grievances including:
- Being told to apologise to van Onselen for complaining about having to write his stories
- Van Onselen refusing to talk to her and communicating by text message
- Being made to move desks so van Onselen could prove he was the boss
- Accusing him of being ‘rude, intemperate, condescending and patronising’
- And being snubbed for invites to van Onselen’s coffee meetings with other staff.
At one stage, the lawsuit alleges van Onselen and executive editor Anthony Murdoch set out to build up another reporter, Stela Todorovic, into a star ahead of Ms George.
The lawsuit alleges van Onselen and executive editor Anthony Murdoch set out to build up another reporter, Stela Todorovic, (pictured) into a star ahead of Ms George
Murdoch allegedly told an ex-workmate of Ms George that ‘PvO had issues with Tegan and so his agenda was to make Stela a star to “get at” Ms George’, the lawsuit claims.
At a performance review, Murdoch later allegedly regretted the move and told Ms George that ‘Ms Todorovic’s work required improvement’, and that Ms George was ‘one of the best journalists in the network’.
Ms 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’.
A series of incidents finally came to a head when Ms George allegedly overheard a sexist conversation and reported it but refused to make a formal statement.
Ms George’s legal action claims she was told by other TV executives that Peter van Onselen (pictured) was ‘bats*** crazy’ and ‘didn’t give a s*** how she was feeling’
The court documents allege she came under intense pressure and was threatened with disciplinary action in a tense two hour showdown with TV bosses.
The lawsuit alleges the ‘toxic’, ‘bullying’ culture at Ten’s Canberra bureau ‘reduced Ms George’s standing and reputation as a journalist’.
‘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,’ adds the lawsuit.
Network Ten refused to comment about the case on Tuesday and will file a defence to the claims at a later date.