Renowned Australian comedian Tim Ferguson has issued a formal apology after journalist Candace Sutton accused him of a 'vile and obscene' bullying campaign against her, which she described as sexist and 'psychologically debilitating.'
Sutton penned an article for News Corp on Tuesday which alleged Ferguson sent her obscene drawings and sexist and abusive letters over several months in 1990.
At the time, Ferguson was growing in popularity as his comedy trio, the Doug Anthony Allstars, was at the height of its fame.
Sutton was working for Fairfax Media's The Sun Herald.
Sutton writes, 'The first letter was written by Ferguson in response to a 25 March 1990 television review column I wrote about comedy show the Big Gig and which mentioned Mr Ferguson once.
'Ferguson followed the first abusive letter with four more similar letters and an obscene drawing. At the time, Fairfax News did not take up the issue of the letters with the ABC, and I was told to call ABC management personally to complain.
'I did so after the arrival of the third letter, but that did not stop the letters coming.'
Following the release of Sutton's article, Ferguson issued an apology through his management. He did not deny the allegations as scans of his letters were shown in Sutton's article.
The apology stated that Ferguson’s colleagues in the Doug Anthony Allstars at the time, Paul McDermott and Richard Fidler, were not made aware of the letters and drawings until after Ferguson had sent them.
The statement reads, 'Tim Ferguson, Paul McDermott and their former colleague Richard Fidler express an unreserved apology to journalist Candace Sutton for behaviour towards her when they were performing together as the Doug Anthony Allstars that was both offensive and unprofessional.
'Tim, who was responsible for the letter and drawing sent in 1990, says he deeply regrets sending them in response to a television review written by Candace, and acknowledges the hurt and offence caused by his actions. He apologises unreservedly.
'Paul and Richard were only made aware of the letter and drawings after Tim had sent them, and they expressed their dismay and disgust to him at the time. It was an appalling and stupid thing to do.'
The statement ends, 'However both Richard and Paul acknowledge that, having been made aware of their existence, they both should have urged Tim to retract these infantile messages and apologise for their content. They’re sincerely sorry for their failure to do so at the time.'
Sutton has not yet responded to Tim's apology.
Meanwhile, the Australian media and public have sparked a debate on whether Ferguson's apology is warranted or too late.
Many have also rallied behind Sutton's brave and honest account.