TV presenter Rebecca Maddern has apologised to her bosses for badmouthing Novak Djokovic alongside presenter Mike Amor – as furious executives race to track down the mole responsible for leaking footage of their rant.
Footage leaked last night of Maddern and Amor criticising the world number one after a court ruled he would be allowed to stay in Australia.
Their expletive-laden rant, which appears to have taken place as they prepared to present the station’s 6pm news program, included Maddern saying: ‘Whatever way you look at it, Novak Djokovic is a lying, sneaky, a***hole.’
Amor responded: ‘He got a bullshit f*****g excuse and then fell over his own f*****g lies. It’s just what happens, right, that’s what happened.’
Maddern added that there were multiple errors made in the process of cancelling and then reinstating Djokovic’s visa to play at the Australian Open.
Rebecca Maddern and Mike Amor are seen in a screengrab from the video, released online on Tuesday night
7News Melbourne presenters Rebecca Maddern and Mike Amor were caught criticising the world No.1 amid his visa debacle in a hot mic rant that was later leaked online
Their expletive-laden rant, which appears to have taken place as they prepared to present the station’s 6pm news program, included Maddern saying: ‘whatever way you look at it, Novak Djokovic is a lying, sneaky, a***hole’
In a statement issued on Wednesday morning, Craig McPherson, Seven’s Director of News and Public Affairs, said the person responsible for leaking the ‘private conversation’ would be dealt with.
‘The illegal recording was of a private conversation between two colleagues,’ he said.
‘It was an underhanded, cowardly act in breach of the Victorian Listening Devices legislation the perpetrator of which will be accordingly dealt with when found.’
Another executive, Melbourne chief Lewis Martin, told Radio 3AW the probe into the leaker was well underway.
Mr Martin said he had spoken with Maddern and she had apologised to him.
‘We have got broadcast operations people that are looking into it from last night.
‘So they are working out how the vision was recorded and how it was distributed.’
Djokovic had landed in Australia with a medical exemption from vaccination on the basis he had tested positive to Covid-19 on December 16 but was detained for five days when border force officials denied the exemption.
He’s since been released from detention but it is still unclear if he will be able to play in the Australian Open beginning on January 17.
In the wake of the news presenters’ comments, Twitter has erupted with many throwing their support behind the pair, while others have speculated leaking the footage was an inside job – or even a publicity stunt, given Maddern only recently began the role.
Entertainment journalist Peter Ford said finding the leaker can be ‘narrowed down to the timecode you see in the top right hand corner’ of the clip.
‘Not every outlet getting the feed gets this. Also quite possibly it’s not within 7 building itself as play out centre, affiliates and others get the feed,’ he tweeted.
Entertainment journalist Peter Ford said finding the leaker can be ‘narrowed down to the timecode you see in the top right hand corner’
Many Aussies supported the news presenters, agreeing with their thoughts on the world No.1
Some have speculated the leak was a ‘PR stunt’
While many condemned the person for leaking the footage, they also supported Maddern and Amor’s opinions
‘It shouldn’t have happened and no doubt there will be a witch-hunt. But what’s the sin?
‘Two experienced journalists having a private conversation about a heated and complex issue – and using language many people in the ‘real world’ use.’
Hundreds of other Twitter users weighed in, many in agreeance with Maddern and Amor’s comments.
‘Rebecca Maddern and Mike Amor staged this — l wonder what they’ll have to say about Australian Formula One Grand Prix drivers!!’ tweeted another.
‘If news presenters are filmed ‘behind scenes’ in a closed studio, then the footage is not ‘leaked’ its a PR stunt… But Rebecca Maddern and Mike Amor weren’t wrong,’ wrote another.
‘Honestly, the real Mike Amor and Rebecca Maddern as seen in this video come across very likeable. If it was a marketing stunt, it won me over,’ one said.
‘I hope Mike Amor and Rebecca Maddern are promoted on the basis of that leaked video,’ another tweet read.
Rebecca Maddern (pictured, left) was heard repeatedly slamming the tennis star, while colleague Mike Amor (right) quickly joined in on the rant
‘Every Australian needs to stand by Rebecca Maddern and Mike Amor. They are only saying what we – and the rest of the world is thinking.’
Maddern is just one week into her role as the Seven Network’s newsreader, having recently said she had landed her dream job.
‘It is a job of a lifetime; these opportunities don’t come up very often,’ she said.
‘You only have to look at the main anchors and how long they have been in those roles, so it is not lost on me how lucky I am.’
She added: ‘It is a real honour to be leading the team alongside Mike Amor.’
Maddern began working at Seven in 2002, serving as a news reporter on programs such as Seven Afternoon News and Sunrise.
She left Seven in 2016 and immediately signed with Nine.
Maddern confirmed in late October she had walked away from Nine after almost six years at the network.
It comes after the revelation that Djokovic could face jail after Australia’s Border Force launched a fresh investigation into whether the tennis star lied on a travel declaration form before entering the country.
Federal rules on the matter state: ‘Giving false or misleading information to the Australian Government is a serious offence. If convicted, the maximum penalty is imprisonment for 12 months.’
Court documents released as part of the row over Djokovic’s visa show his declaration form stated he would not travel to any other countries in the 14 days prior to boarding his flight to Australia on January 4.
In answer to the question: ‘Have you travelled, or will you travel, in the 14 days prior to your flight to Australia?’ whoever filled out the form selected ‘no’.
DECEMBER 31, SPAIN : Video uploaded by a tennis training academy on New Year’s Eve purports to show Djokovic training in Marbella
JANUARY 2, SPAIN: Another image uploaded to Twitter by a fan appears to show Djokovic training in Marbella last week
LEFT – JANUARY 4, SPAIN: Novak Djokovic in Marbella playing soccer on the tennis court with his brother Marko and the coach before going to Australia. RIGHT – JANUARY 5, AUSTRALIA: Novak Djokovic stands at a booth of the Australian Border Force at the airport in Melbourne on January 5 after arriving from Spain, via Dubai
That means the 34-year-old tennis player would have needed to remain in the same country since December 21.
But social media images appear to show that he was in Belgrade, Serbia, on December 25 and then in Marbella, Spain, from December 31 until catching his flight to Australia, via Dubai.
It is not clear whether admitting he had travelled to Spain would have automatically disqualified Djokovic from coming to Australia – however, lying on a travel declaration document is punishable by up to 12 months in jail.
News of the investigation is just the latest twist in the Djokovic border saga which saw him thrown in immigration detention on January 5 when the Australian government ripped up his visa for not being vaccinated.
Novak Djokovic tweeted this picture late on Monday night, thanking fans for sticking by him as well as the judge who ordered his release
Pictured: Novak Djokovic during a practice session ahead of the Australian Open, in Melbourne on Tuesday
After overnight questioning at Melbourne airport, border officials decided the exemption was not valid, cancelled his visa and transferred him to a detention centre pending deportation.
However, he was freed by a judge on Monday, sparking both anger from those who felt he was being given preferential treatment and celebration from his supporters.
There has also been a backlash to Djokovic’s claim that he tested positive for Covid-19 on December 16, as on December 17 he took part in an open PR event and was pictured hugging children at an award ceremony in Belgrade. It is unclear whether he knew he had Covid when the photographs were taken.
He is now free in Melbourne where he has been pictured training at the Rod Laver Arena, but his fate is still not assured after Australia’s immigration minister threatened to use his personal powers to shred the tennis star’s visa.
HOW SOCIAL MEDIA GAVE THE GAME AWAY
December 25: Belgrade, Serbia, Djokovic is pictured in a social post with handball player Petar Djordjic
December 31: Marbella, Spain, Djokovic is filmed training on New Year’s Eve in a video uploaded by a tennis training academy
January 2: Marbella, Spain, Djokovic is pictured training at Puente Romano beach resort
January 4: Marbella, Spain, Djokovic is pictured playing football on a tennis court with his brother before later boarding flight in Spain via Dubai to Australia
January 5: Melbourne, Australia, arrives early AM and is pictured at Australian border gate
According to his sworn affidavit, Djokovic departed Spain on January 4 and had a stopover in Dubai before landing in Melbourne late on the night of January 5.
The timings mean Djokovic would have had to be in Spain from 11.30pm on December 22 AEDT, (1.30pm Spanish time) to comply with the rules not to travel within two weeks of arriving in Australia, the Herald Sun reported.
But social media posts show Djokovic playing tennis in the streets of Belgrade on December 25 while another post shared on the same day by Serbian handball star Petar Djordjic shows him posing with the tennis star.
‘ONE AND ONLY !!!!! Thank you for the picture and for the nice wishes,’ Djordjic captioned the photo.
Six days later on New Years Eve, footage emerged of Djokovic having a hit out on the tennis court in south-east Spain.
‘We can confirm Novak Djokovic is ready for the Australian if possible!’ Soto Tennis Academy captioned the footage.
A close-up photo posted by the academy shows Djokovic using tennis balls emblazoned with the Australian Open logo.A
The maximum penalty for providing false or misleading information to the Australian government is 12 months imprisonment.
The travel declaration form itself states: ‘Giving false or misleading information is a serious offence. You may also be liable to a civil penalty for giving false or misleading information.’
Daily Mail Australia has contacted the ABF for further comment.
Djokovic was finally released from five days in immigration detention following Monday’s court ruling on Monday.
The court decision sparked wild scenes from supporters on the streets of Melbourne and tournament directors are now on high alert amid fears of violence in the stands should Djokovic play next week.
Immigration Minister Alex Hawke has refused to rule out using his personal powers to cancel Djokovic’s visa yet again and boot him out of the country – sparking a furious response from one-time tennis star and MP colleague John Alexander, who warned about the future of the Open.
‘So what would be the ‘public interest’ the Minister could potentially use to exercise his personal powers to deport our defending Australian Open tennis champion?’ Mr Alexander posted on Monday night.
‘The minister’s ‘personal powers to cancel visas’ are designed to prevent criminals otherwise walking our streets, or to prevent a contagious person otherwise walking our streets; they’re not designed to assist in dealing with a potential political problem of the day.’
Following the court decision, which the government says was ‘on a procedural ground’, Mr Hawke is considering whether to use his discretionary personal powers to cancel Djokovic’s visa.
Fans became increasingly agitated when their hero failed to emerge from his lawyers’ office on Monday evening – sparking a stand-off with police
‘The minister is currently considering the matter and the process remains ongoing,’ a spokesman said.
Australia’s Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce admitted he was wrong about the tennis star in a strong hint he may not be deported.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s Serbian counterpart has requested direct liaison between governments about issues over Djokovic’s visa.
The prime minister’s office said Mr Morrison had a constructive call with Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabić on Tuesday morning.
In the call, Mr Morrison explained Australia’s non-discriminatory border policy and its role in protecting the country during the Covid pandemic.
The two leaders agreed to stay in contact on the issue, and to further strengthening their bilateral relationship.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT NOVAK DJOKOVIC’S CASE
Will Novak Djokovic play at the Australian Open? Nobody will know until the Minister for Immigration Alex Hawke declares his hand – either to allow Djokovic to stay in Australia or to re-cancel his visa.
If he does not decide to cancel his visa, Djokovic will be free to stay in Australia and defend his title.
What happened in court? Judge Anthony Kelly quashed the decision to tear up Djokovic’s visa and ordered him to be freed and his belongings to be returned.
Will he still be deported? Again, this comes down to immigration minister Alex Hawke. The Djokovic case has been a debacle for the government and divided Australians over the best course of action.
Immigration Minister Alex Hawke has refused to rule out using his personal powers to cancel Djokovic’s visa yet again and boot him out of the country (pictured, Djokovic training in Melbourne on Tuesday)
Serbia’s public broadcaster, RTS, reported the Serbian prime minister asked Mr Morrison to ensure the tennis star was treated with dignity.
‘The (Serbian) prime minister especially emphasised the importance of the conditions for training and physical preparation for the upcoming competition, considering that Novak Djokovic was not allowed to train in the previous days, and the tournament in Melbourne starts this weekend,’ RTS reported.
‘The prime minister also asked (Mr) Morrison to be in direct contact in the coming days and for all information to be exchanged directly between the government of Serbia and the government of Australia.’
It comes as the fallout over the cancellation of Djokovic’s visa – which was then overturned – continues to make international headlines.
Members of the Serbian community (pictured) are seen marching through Melbourne on Monday night, with the scene soon becoming violent as protesters crashed with police – leading to many being pepper-sprayed
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said the Australian Open was bigger than one player but that he was not lobbying Mr Hawke to act either way.
‘I’m not going to be out there every day calling for him to use them or not use them, that’s a matter for him,’ he said. ‘He ought to do that free of any pressure, free of any public debate.’
In quashing Border Force’s decision, Judge Anthony Kelly was critical of the hours-long airport interview and said the player had not been given enough time to contact lawyers and tennis officials to discuss his predicament.
The tennis star (pictured, training in Melbourne on Tuesday) was quick to thank his fans for their support – but is still facing a final immigration hurdle
Supporters of Serbian Novak Djokovic chant and sing outside the offices of lawyers following his court win on Monday
Djokovic had been granted a medical exemption to enter Australia by the Victoria state government based on evidence he contracted Covid last month – the second time he had been infected.
The player, who has long opposed mandatory vaccination, confirmed during the interview he was unvaccinated.
The Australian Open begins on January 17. Djokovic has won the tournament, one of four tennis Grand Slams, for the past three years and nine times in total.
If he wins this year, he will become the most successful male tennis player of all time, with a record 21 Grand Slams under his belt.