Facing the Music, the Four Corners exposé, which chronicled the rise-and-fall of one of the most powerful players in Australian music, aired last night.
Content Warning: This article discusses sexual harassment. If you or someone you know is affected by the following story, you are not alone. To speak to someone, you can call Lifeline on 13 11 14, or 1800 RESPECT on 1800 737 732.
Horrifying accounts from current and former Sony Music Australia employees detailed the culture of systemic bullying, discrimination, and misconduct under former chief executive Denis Handlin.
Some of the abusive behaviour outlined in the 47-minute documentary included:
- When Denis Handlin requested former employee Cathie Hannan to go topless for a radio promo stunt when the model didn’t turn up for the paid gig in the ’80s. When Hannan refused, her resignation was requested.
- Allan Terrey, who was CFO at the major in the ’80s and most of ’90s, claimed Handlin asked him to fire the company’s receptionist after 10 years service because he wanted a ‘young, sexy’ woman at the front desk.
- Shane Earle, Handlin’s former private chauffeur who was pulling in 90-hour weeks, detailed an incident where Handlin threw his phone at his head while he was driving. Earle said Handlin was enraged after Earle couldn’t buy him a meat pie at Sydney’s Harry’s Café de Wheels. “I was having so much trouble processing the yelling and screaming and also trying to drive,” said Earle, who eventually pulled over and walked away.
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- Tony Glover, who was let go in April, said he believes he was the Sony Music scapegoat as journalists began to look into horrifying allegations which date back to the ’70s.Four Corners‘ investigative journalist Grace Tobin told Glover that he had “been described as a compulsive groper.” “I have no knowledge of that and I don’t know why someone would say that,” responded Glover. “If that’s what someone thinks I apologise.”
- Greg Lockhart, a former Head of HR at Sony Music Australia in the late ’80s and ’90s, said Denis Handlin had staff followed by private detectives. “I’ve never heard of it before and I hope I never hear of it again,” said Lockhart. Lockhart also revealed that he felt the redundancy pay-outs he was in charge of dispensing were “gag money”.
One of the more chilling allegations was that which detailed the sexual assault of a female employee in 2016, which took place in Sony Music Australia’s office bathroom during a work event.
“A naked male manager confronted her in a bathroom and sexually assaulted her,” reported Grace Tobin last night. “The woman reported it directly to Denis Handlin and HR.”
Four Corners obtained a letter addressed to the assault survivor which read:
“Some of the conduct that’s come to light and been confirmed is totally unacceptable to the company. This has been very clearly communicated by Denis, who has said unequivocally that such behaviour must never occur again. There should be no doubt that these events would have serious career ramifications at Sony Music.”
Four Corners reports the alleged perpetrator continued on in a senior role at the company for several more years. The female employee left the company with an $80,000 pay-out and an NDA (non-disclosure agreement).
Facing the Music, reported by Grace Tobin, will be replayed on Tuesday 12th October at 1.00pm and Wednesday 13th at 11.20pm. It can also be seen on ABC NEWS channel on Saturday at 8.10pm AEST, ABC iview and at abc.net.au/4corners.