Broadcaster Alan Jones is planning legal action against Nine newspapers for “demonstrably false” allegations of indecent assault published in the Sydney Morning Herald, his lawyers have said.
“In the short time available since publication we have obtained substantial factual information which contradicts and refutes the alleged pattern of conduct by Mr Jones,” the statement shared on behalf of Jones by his lawyers Mark O’Brien Legal reads.
“We have retained Senior Counsel and have instructions to immediately serve a Concerns Notice under Section 12A of the Defamation Act as the first step in the commencement of defamation proceedings.”
Several men detailed claims of indecent assault against Jones in the article by veteran investigative reporter Kate McClymont, including that he groped or inappropriately touched them without their consent. Jones strongly denied the allegations via his lawyers.
Jones, once considered among the most influential voices in Australian media, was Sydney’s most popular breakfast radio presenter for several decades and grilled prime ministers and sports stars from his perch at the top rating commercial radio station 2GB.
Allegations of indecent assault made against Jones would be “confronting for many 2GB listeners”, the station’s breakfast host Ben Fordham told listeners Thursday.
Fordham, who took over the breakfast spot in 2020 when Jones left, said the show had reached out to Jones this morning to offer him the chance to tell his side of the story.
“Alan knows better than anyone that we don’t shy away from challenging topics. And that’s why we’re talking about this case here,” he said. “You would have heard me say this many, many times on this program and I’ll say it again now – the accused is innocent until proven otherwise.”
Fellow 2GB broadcaster Ray Hadley also commented on the story on air on Thursday. He said one of the men in the story – a former 2GB employee – had previously told him about his allegations regarding Jones, but had asked him not to tell anyone.
“As a fierce supporter of anyone who finds themselves in this type of situation, my support and actions are always guided by the alleged victims,” Hadley said. “If they asked me not to pursue the matter, I respect their wishes.”
“I regard this young man as not being an attention seeker or a person who seeks notoriety but rather directly the opposite,” he said.
Nine Entertainment, which now wholly owns 2GB, also sent an email to staff across its radio properties on Thursday, acknowledging the story might “be distressing for current or former employees” and pointed them to a dedicated phoneline.
“We take our responsibility to create a supportive and respectful workplace very seriously,” wrote Tom Malone, Nine’s managing director of radio, and HR director Vanessa Morley. “[We] continue to work with people across all parts of the business to support anyone impacted historically or currently to resolve issues that may arise in their day to day roles.”
Jones left 2GB in 2020 after health concerns and a sponsor boycott in 2019, stemming from comments he made about prominent women including the then-New Zealand prime minister, Jacinda Ardern.
In his final show, he took calls from the then-prime minister, Scott Morrison, and hosted Tony Abbott and Mark Latham in the studio.
He left Sky News Australia in 2021 after hosting a flagship after dark show on the network and lost his regular column at Sydney newspaper the Daily Telegraph that same year.
Jones continues to occasionally write about sport for the paper. In his last article in September, Jones commented on the Australian campaign at the Rugby World Cup.
“While he has written several pieces on Rugby Union for the sports section we have no ongoing relationship with Alan Jones as a contributor,” Daily Telegraph editor Ben English said in a statement.
Jones now hosts a show on the news channel AHD TV, which calls itself “the new home for common sense commentary in Australia” and features Jones prominently in its branding.
Earlier this year, the chief executive of ADH TV, Jack Bulfin, told the Australian Financial Review that he approached Jones following his break with Sky News about the prospect of building a “conservative media network”.
ADH TV did not respond to a request for comment by deadline.