Grandmother loses bid to stop TV interview

The grandmother of three girls at the centre of a high-profile international custody dispute has lost her legal case against Channel 9 to stop 60 Minutes from featuring her image in a story due to be aired on Sunday night.

The story has been heavily promoted by Nine this week and claims to reveal the father’s side of the story for the first time.

The three girls were sent to live with their father in Italy last month after their mother lost her custody case in the Family Court of Australia.

At an urgent interlogatory injunction in Victoria’s Supreme Court late Friday afternoon, the grandmother sought to have her image removed from the story due to fears for her safety and reputation.

She claimed she only agreed to participate if her image was not shown.

In legal documents tendered to the court, the grandmother states she receives daily death threats from hate groups and vigilante fathers groups.

She claims she was pressured into participating in the story by the show’s director, Steve Burling, despite repeatedly telling him she did not wish to be involved as she was too ill.

She has recently had multiple operations and experiences extreme pain, her affidavit states.

She says Mr Burling demanded she produce detailed medical certificates explaining why she was too sick to participate, and he kept telling her the story would “fall over” if she did not take part.

When she produced medical reports which stated she was too unwell to fly to Brisbane where the girls’ mother lived, arrangements were then made for the interview to take place near the grandmother’s home.

The interview took place on November 16.

Despite being assured that she would be placed in a separate room to her daughter and other family members who consented to being shown, the grandmother was not and vision was subsequently taken of her during the interview.

She states she objected to cameras being on her during the interview given their agreement, but vision was still taken.

She claims afterwards, she made repeated requests to Mr Burling that she not be shown in the story, but he ignored her calls and then said it was “out of his hands” when he told her that vision of her would in fact be used.

“I hold grave concerns for my safety and reputation if visual images of me are aired by Sixty Minutes,” her court affidavit states.

“I receive daily threats from hate groups and Facebook hate pages run predominently by vigilant fathers’ groups. Earlier this week, I saw a comment on one such site that  suggested somebody get a ‘hit man’ to deal with (her daughter) and myself.”

The grandmother also expresses concerns that the footage would be detrimental to any ongoing family law proceedings in relation to the three girls, “and could possibly be in breach of the Family Law Act”.

“I believe there are current court cases in both Australia and Italy regarding my granddaughters,” she states.

But after a lawyer for the television network contended that Nine had done nothing wrong, Justice Stephen Kaye ruled there was insufficient evidence to grant the injunction.