Senior executives at News Limited have been accused of exaggerating and inventing stories to support the dismissal of the former editor-in-chief of Melbourne’s Herald Sun newspaper.
Bruce Guthrie is suing the company for nearly $3 million in an unfair dismissal case.
Both News Limited and the former editor have again been urged to settle out of court.
Acting for Mr Guthrie, Norman O’Bryan SC today went on the attack.
He accused News Limited chief executive John Hartigan of “beating up” tales of Mr Guthrie’s ineptitude to support his dismissal.
Mr O’Bryan said the company had no evidence of a drop in sales of the Herald Sun or that it lagged behind while Mr Guthrie was at the helm.
He went on to accuse Mr Hartigan of not warning the editor of insidious attempts to get rid of him by the managing director Peter Blunden.
Of all three men, Mr O’Bryan argued Mr Guthrie was the most credible witness.
“Unlike Hartigan and Blunden, he never went behind backs. He never privately or secretly conspired to harm anyone else,” he said.
News Limited told Mr Guthrie he had zero future with the company, but the court heard Mr Hartigan had offered to find him more work a day after he was fired.
In ending his contract, Mr Guthrie’s counsel argued he had been robbed of opportunities with both News Limited and the global empire of News Corp.
The judge has reserved his decision and again urged both parties to settle out of court or risk being found to have lied.