A Victorian coroner has criticised Nine News journalist for having a series of phone conversations with a gunman while police were trying to negotiate with him.
Nine News Melbourne chief of staff Kate McGrath spoke to convicted rapist Antonio ‘Tony’ Loguancio while he was barricaded in a Glenroy bungalow in March 2013. McGrath spoke with him a number of times, including in one call lasting 54 minutes.
Coroner Audrey Jamieson found McGrath’s communication with Loguancio, which he initiated, had been inappropriate and disruptive to the police operation, but cleared her of contributing to his death.
“It ultimately amounted to an opportunistic exploitation of a significant police incident, executed by Ms McGrath without any consideration for the fact that she may be compromising police endeavours to have Tony surrender himself,” Coroner Audrey Jamieson said.
“Ms. McGrath’s contact with Tony … was conducted to the exclusion of negotiators and limited their already precarious ability to engage and negotiate with Tony.”
McGrath had earlier told the inquest she had contacted police after her initial conversation with Loguancio to seek advice on what to tell him.
Loguancio, 40, fatally shot himself after the 43-hour siege.
Judge Jamieson recommended the Australian Press Council set stricter standards around journalists interfering with police operations.
A Nine spokesperson said, “The Nine Network accepts the findings of the Coroner.
“We take our responsibilities as a broadcaster very seriously and would never seek to disrupt a police investigation.
“We immediately notified and sought guidance from police. We maintain that our staff acted in a responsible manner at all times and are pleased that the Coroner found that the actions of our staff were in no way a causative factor in the outcome.”