Top Australian Editor Quits Over Sexual Harassment Claims – Days After Condemning Harassment

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By Kieran Corcoran | 5:15 am, December 5, 2016

The editor-in-chief of one of Australia’s biggest newspapers has resigned amid claims he sexually harassed a colleague – just days after his publication took a major stand against that very issue.

Mark Forbes, boss of The Age, quit dramatically over the weekend after confessing that he failed to live up to the standards he – and his paper – expect of others.

According to reports in the Australian media, Forbes was at a music awards party last week when he groped an unnamed female colleague’s behind.

Political gossip blog Crikey reported:

News filtered out among certain segments of Melbourne’s media class late last week that [The Age publisher] Fairfax was quietly conducting an investigation into the editor-in-chief, after a female journalist in the newsroom filed a complaint accusing him of having grabbed her bum at the work function.

By Friday afternoon, media outlets had asked about the incident, Fairfax said the editor-in-chief had been “stood down” pending the completion of the investigation.

The temporary measure soon became permanent as Forbes emailed a resignation message to his staff.

The allegation is acutely embarrassing as it comes after The Age took a major stand on harassment of professional women in the Australian workplace.

The newspaper ran extensive testimonials from women mistreated in their line of work, and wrote a strident editorial condemning the “manifold disgrace” of gender inequality.

The piece, which Forbes would have been intimately involved with publishing, demanded more government action to end workplace harassment, and demanded that the media “unstintingly shine a light” on abuses.

A commuter reads his edition of The Age in 2013
A commuter reads his edition of The Age in 2013

Within a week, Forbes was explaining to his own staff that it was he who had fallen short.

An email sent round the newsroom said:

As EIC of The Age, I must uphold all the standards which we would expect in others.

I acknowledge and accept that I have not done so. Whatever the circumstance, even a single lapse of judgement in upholding these standards should have serious consequences. Accordingly, I believe it is untenable to remain as EIC.

There has since been suggestion that it was more than a “single” lapse, with a second reporter coming forward to complain Forbes had leered at her breasts and made suggestive comments in the office.

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