Leaked text messages have reignited tension between the ABC and journalist Antoinette Lattouf who was fired last month for sharing social media posts about the Israeli-Palestinian war, and in doing so was accused of breaching the ABC's social media policy.
The journalist believes the leaked messages, obtained by The Age newspaper, were exchanged between Jewish lawyers in a private group chat and indicate the national broadcaster was pressured to get rid of her, claiming “racism” was part of its reasoning behind the decision.
Lattouf, who is of Lebanese descent, was a fill-in host for ABC Sydney’s morning radio show and was reportedly told she was doing a good job hours before she was notified the ABC was terminating her employment last month.
The journalist filed a complaint to the Fair Work Commission stating she was "humiliatingly fired for expressing a political opinion and because of her race” and has hired workplace lawyer Josh Bornstein to investigate further allegations of systemic discrimination at the ABC.
‘Lawyers for Israel’ group chat messages leaked
Messages from Lawyers for Israel private group chat published by The Age newspaper show lawyers questioning why the journalist is employed by the ABC given her stance on the conflict in Gaza.
One member in the chat said she had contacted the national broadcaster implying it faced an “actual legal threat” due to her employment, before later admitting there may not one. It is understood Lattouf believes the lawyers were trying to bluff the ABC into getting rid of her.
The message reads: "I have basically written to them and told them I expect a proper response, not a generic one, by COB today or I would look to engage senior counsel," it read. "I know there is probably no actionable offence against the ABC, but I didn’t say I would be taking one – just investigating one. I have said that they should be terminating her employment immediately."
In the messages the lawyers encouraged each other to complain to the ABC saying "the more complaints the better" with another saying they wanted the journalist "gone". Alongside her lawyer, Lattouf will move forward with expanding her Fair Work Commission complaint.
Political reporter resigns over Israeli-Palestinian war coverage
The situation continues to play out after political reporter Nour Haydar resigned from the ABC on Friday due to the national broadcaster's coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian war.
"I have resigned from the ABC. This was not a decision that I made lightly, but one I made with total clarity," she said. "Commitment to diversity in the media cannot be skin-deep. Culturally diverse staff should be respected and supported even when they challenge the status quo."
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