Nine Network reporter Michael Usher has admitted “we made mistakes” in a 60 Minutes report about his colleagues’ detainment in Lebanon over a botched kidnapping attempt.
Brisbane mum Sally Faulkner says she has moments where she wants to burst into tears after saying goodbye to her children Lahela, 5, and Noah, 3, following two weeks spent in a Beirut prison for attempting to snatch back her children from their father Ali Elamine.
But reporter Tara Brown, who was detained along with her crew and Ms Faulkner, maintained they were “just journalists doing our job”.
A review into the editorial approval of the story and the actions of the crew in Beirut began on Friday, Mr Usher said, adding “it was a failure which ended very badly for everyone involved”.
Ms Brown said she thought “reason would prevail” after she and her crew Benjamin Williamson, David Ballment and Stephen Rice were detained for two weeks with Ms Faulkner and Child Abduction Recovery International head Adam Whittington.
“I really thought we’re journalists, we’re doing our job, they will see reason, they’ll understand that,” she said.
“That we are here just to do a story on a very, very desperate mother.”
While the 60 Minutes crew returned to Sydney on Thursday, Ms Faulkner stayed behind until Friday to say goodbye to her eldest children.
Ms Faulkner has now been reunited with her new partner Brendan Pierce and their three-month-old son Eli, but says she’s numb.
“Lahela she looked at me and she said ‘mummy take my ring’, she gave me her little ring, she said ‘so you don’t forget me’,” she said.
The Australian Family Court granted Ms Faulkner full custody of Lahela and Noah but she gave up that right in exchange for Mr Elamine dropping abduction charges against her and the TV crew.
Ms Faulkner and the 60 Minutes crew could still face possible criminal charges – and Nine remains under pressure for apparently paying nearly $70,000 to the alleged child recovery team.
Whittington has expressed anger about being left out of the release deal as he waits for a bail hearing, postponed until early this week.
Whittington’s mother, Georgina, has criticised Nine for a lack of communication on her son’s situation.