Gary Johnston, the major shareholder in consumer electronics retailer Jaycar, has gone on another rant over his beloved Canterbury Bulldogs football team by demanding that Channel Nine apologise for daring to record a conversation at the club ‘Uninvited’.In an exclusive interview with ChannelNews, Johnston, who has been described as a “dinosaur,” claims that offensive remarks hurled at Channel Nine reporter Jayne Azzopardi last week could have been directed at male members of the club.
Full of conspiracy theories, he claims that Channel Nine turned up at the club “uninvited” and that they deliberately used special directional mics to capture unknown persons from within the club yelling out from a Window towards Jayne Azzopardi “There are some ladies here to stick their heads in your pants”; “S … me off you dumb dog”; and “I want to go and punch you in the face.”
When it was put to Johnston that the comments are clearly directed at a woman he said “They could have been directed at a male person in the club. Any Court in the Country would see that this is possible”.
When it was put to Johnston that Channel Nine had every right to turn up at the club as they were a major sponsor of NRL in Australia he said “They were uninvited. They turned up in a park next to the club. There is very real doubt that the conversation was directed at a female.”
When it was put to him that his comments were absurd he said “There could be quite a plausible explanation to the remarks”.
When he was asked whether as a major sponsor of the club he had asked for a “plausible” explanation he said “No”.
He said that any attempt to link the club, players or officials with the derogatory comments or that they were directed at a female TV reporter was an “assumption on the part of the media”.
In another interview Johnston said ”I think Channel Nine should definitely apologise for what they’ve done, as far as inflaming a lot of aggravation over what was very little evidence”.
Of the conversation that was reported Johnston said ”It could have been [directed to] someone inside the building, in fact that’s the more likely explanation. ”Channel Nine were secretly recording that conversation without the knowledge of the people inside the building so it was Channel Nine’ s conceit that assumed that they were talking to [her]. They had no evidence that that conversation was directed to someone on the outside of the building.
”They were stupid for going there in the first place when they weren’t invited. Channel Nine are trying to drive something that wasn’t there.”
When it was put to Johnston that Channel Nine paid a lot of money to the NRL and the Canterbury Bulldogs he asked “How?”
Last week Johnston said “If a woman walks into some bars in Sydney, she will be ogled, she will be treated as an object and that’s the way it is. She doesn’t have to walk into those bars”.
In a leaked email he claims that Canterbury will ask for an apology from Channel Nine.
In the letter revealed by Fairfax Media Johnston writes: ”Canterbury are approaching Channel 9 to seek an apology for the way that Channel 9 has ‘conveniently’ interpreted this matter. I for one will be surprised if the Dogs get a reply’.”
Johnston also wrote that he was made aware of an audit compiled by a security expert who, he said, had examined, ”ALL of the Channel 9 footage and footage of internal video from the Belmore complex”. He said this had uncovered no evidence of players or staff inside Belmore directing abuse to anyone outside and that the story had been aired with ”nothing to back up Channel 9’s assertion that conversation was directed to them”.
Johnston went on to describe apologies made last week by Bulldogs chief executive Todd Greenberg and chairman Ray Dib – who delivered flowers to Azzopardi at Nine – as a ”kneejerk” reaction.
Nine news director Darren Wick last night told the Herald: ”Anything that Gary Johnston says is not helpful to the process that we’re going through. I have a great deal of faith in Todd Greenberg and the Bulldogs management to resolve this issue.”