Senior 60 Minutes journo sacked over child abduction saga.

It’s been more than a month since Sally Faulkner and the 60 Minutes crew were released from prison in Lebanon, but the fallout from their attempted child-recovery operation continues.

Channel Nine released a statement this afternoon stating senior producer, Stephen Rice, has been sacked from the network, while the other staff involved have all received formal warnings.

No specific mention was made of reporter Tara Brown.

Video via Channel 9

Brown, two members of the 60 Minutes crew, and Brisbane mother Sally Faulkner were arrested in Beirut on April 7 following a botched attempt to snatch Faulkner’s children, aged three and five, from her estranged husband Ali Elamine.

The group spent two weeks behind bars, before a behind-the-scenes negotiation by Channel Nine managed to secure their release. A rumoured US$500,000 payment was made by the network, which encouraged Mr Elamine to drop the civil charges against them.

The agreement also stipulated that Faulkner hand full custody of the children to Mr Elamine.

In today’s statement, the network outlined the findings of a review into the case by the program’s founder and former producer, Gerald Stone.

“I had the honour to help start that stopwatch ticking 37 years ago and regrettably this has been the gravest misadventure in the program’s history,” he said.

“It’s clear from our findings that inexcusable errors were made.


“I still believe, however, that 60 Minutes – lessons learned – can continue to earn the respect and attention of the viewing public for years to come.”

Nine CEO Hugh Marks added, “The manner in which we produced Sally Faulkner’s story exposed our crew to serious risks, and exposed 60 Minutes and Nine to significant reputational damage. We got too close to the story and suffered damaging consequences.”

channel 9 review into 60 minutes kidnapping

Tara Brown and producer Stephen Rice upon her release last month. Image: Getty.

Marks also conceded that it was inappropriate for 60 Minutes to have paid a $115,000 fee to the child-recovery agency Faulkner had contracted to snatch the children.

“It was also inappropriate," said Hughes, "with the risks involved for our crew, not to have consulted with Nine’s security advisers before the story was finalised.”

With the possibility of charges still being laid by Lebanese authorities, Nine was unable to comment further.

Read Sally Faulkner's open letter, 'I guarantee you one thing. I will bring my children home.'