Kevin Rudd launched legal action over a bungled ABC report. Picture: Kym Smith
Kevin Rudd launched legal action over a bungled ABC report. Picture: Kym Smith

ABC ‘sorry’ over Rudd reporting blunder

THE ABC has formally apologised to former prime minister Kevin Rudd, reportedly admitting its "Cabinet Files" coverage was bungled.

Fairfax has reported that ABC managing director Michelle Guthrie "unreservedly apologised" to the former prime minister over a report last January that said Mr Rudd was cautioned over "critical risks" relating to the home insulation program.

Kevin Rudd, with wife Therese Rein, was “furious” over the ABC’s reporting bungle. Picture: Kym Smith
Kevin Rudd, with wife Therese Rein, was “furious” over the ABC’s reporting bungle. Picture: Kym Smith

 

The ABC's handling of the story reportedly implied that Mr Rudd ignored safety concerns when the report actually spoke to financial risks related to the scheme. Four men died installing insulation under the scheme.

Mr Rudd began legal proceedings against the national broadcaster while the ABC quickly backtracked and said it didn't intend to "suggest that [the former prime minister] recklessly ignored critical risks before the deaths of four young installers" or "that he lied to the royal commission that examined those deaths".

According to Fairfax, Ms Guthrie wrote the letter to Mr Rudd late last month, pleading that he accept her mea culpa "as a genuine reflection of the ABC's concern over the matter and the harm it caused".

ASIO secures the infamous “cabinet files” at ABC offices in Canberra and Brisbane. Picture: ABC News
ASIO secures the infamous “cabinet files” at ABC offices in Canberra and Brisbane. Picture: ABC News

Guthrie, who has recently had to defend the national broadcaster over a string of editorial mistakes, also said there had been "much change and reorganisation at the ABC".

"But clearly we have also made a number of mistakes concerning our content during that period," she said in the letter obtained by Fairfax.

"Stories were published which hadn't received the editorial scrutiny they needed, and weren't up to our standards. It is important those mistakes are acknowledged and that we continue to drive change to strengthen processes, improve accountability and boost the quality of our coverage."

ABC Managing Director Michelle Guthrie has been forced to issue an apology to Kevin Rudd. Picture: AAP/Joel Carrett
ABC Managing Director Michelle Guthrie has been forced to issue an apology to Kevin Rudd. Picture: AAP/Joel Carrett

Mr Rudd has reportedly dropped any legal action after the apology.

The "Cabinet Files" have been a source of embarrassment for the government after "top secret" classified documents were found in a filing cabinet that was sold cheaply at a second-hand shop in Canberra, which stocked ex-government furniture.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull was forced to deny his office was leaking cabinet documents in a move to embarrass former PM Tony Abbott.


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