Drastic actions have been taken in the fallout of an independent review of the 60 Minutes child abduction saga.
As revealed in an official statement released by Nine on Friday, Producer Stephen Rice has left the company while other staff involved in the planning and execution of this story have received formal warnings.
Filming for the story saw a team from Child Abduction Recovery International paid to grab the two children of Brisbane mother Sally Faulkner off a street in Beirut.
In the statement, founder and former producer of 60 Minutes, Gerald Stone admitted 'inexcusable errors were made' in creating the story about Australian Sally Faulkner which resulted in the 60 Minutes crew being arrested in Beirut.
‘This has been the gravest misadventure in the program’s history,' he said.
Nine CEO Hugh Marks called the incident ‘deeply regrettable’.
‘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,' Mark said.
'We got too close to the story and suffered damaging consequences. The execution of this story it was inappropriate, and at odds with our standard procedure, for a payment to be made directly by 60 Minutes to the recovery agency that had been independently contracted by Sally Faulkner. It was also inappropriate, with the risks involved for our crew, not to have consulted with Nine’s security advisers before the story was finalised. As a result of the review, we are expanding and upgrading our processes related to story selection and approval, how we approve contracts and payments and the way we conduct risk assessments’
Civil claims brought by the childrens' father Ali Elamine against the 60 Minutes crew and Sally have been settled but the crew potentially faces cases to answer from the Lebanese justice system.
On Sunday, 60 Minutes will air a special called Beirut: What went wrong?
Michael Usher will speak with one of the report’s authors, Gerald Stone.