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Seven West launches CEO affair inquiry

AAP logoAAP 21/12/2016 Peter Trute and Lilly Vitorovich

Embattled broadcaster Seven West Media will run an independent inquiry into damaging allegations made by the former employee who had an affair with chief executive Tim Worner, saying the probe is a "prudent" move to allay shareholder concerns.

In only its second public statement on the scandal since it was reported on Monday, Seven West said on Thursday that its board continues to support Mr Worner but took "very seriously" allegations raised by former executive assistant Amber Harrison, which have been widely publicised in media reports.

Seven West's board has met four times this week to consider Ms Harrison's allegations, which include claims that an investigation of her credit card expenses which led to her termination was vindicative.

The company said it supported the decisions made after Ms Harrison's alleged credit card misuse and her relationship with Mr Worner were brought to its attention two years ago.

The Kerry Stokes-chaired board appointed external accountants to report on alleged misuse of Ms Harrison's corporate credit card.

"It was this report that lead to Ms Harrison's termination and a settlement agreement being reached by the parties," Seven West said on Thursday.

Seven West said the new inquiry would review decisions made around the termination and settlement.

"To allay any concerns that our shareholders may have the board has determined it prudent to commission a further independent inquiry to establish all of the facts so as to confirm that all necessary matters have been and were taken into account," the statement said.

The independent expert and the timeframe for the inquiry have not been named.

The announcement comes two days after the Australian Shareholders' Association called on Seven West's board to start planning for Mr Worner's departure next year, saying the controversy surrounding the affair could not end while he retains his position.

ASA director Stephen Mayne said the reputational damage to Seven West would not be fully resolved until the company has a new CEO and said the succession plan is "something they should progress in 2017".

Seven West late Monday disclosed that it made a confidential settlement with Ms Harrison more than two years ago, with payments made to her as part of the terms.

In the statement, Mr Worner said he is "filled with the deepest shame and regret" over the two-year affair.

Seven West also said Kerry Stokes, the group's biggest shareholder and chairman, had made it clear the conduct was "completely unacceptable" but affirmed Mr Worner will stay on as CEO.

At 1250 AEDT, Seven West shares were down 0.25 cents to 79.25 cents.

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