Billionaire’s email to axed Seven star
One week after Weekend Sunrise presenter Simon Reeve was dumped from Channel 7, he received an email from network chairman Kerry Stokes.
The billionaire businessman referred to Reeve as having just "been made redundant".
"I'm so sorry," Stokes said on July 3, according to court documents seen by news.com.au.
That same day, Seven West Media chief operations officer Bruce McWilliam emailed Reeve to say he was "part of the DNA of this place since before I can remember".
In another email on July 16, he wrote: "You'll leave a big hole as you've been part of the weekend line up for so long. Won't be the same without you as you're part of our DNA."
Reeve, 59, has worked with Seven on and off over the last four decades including providing Olympic Games commentary and as host of quiz show Million Dollar Minute and children's game show It's Academic.
The Gold Coast-based TV personality last appeared on Weekend Sunrise in early 2020.
On March 16, the show's producer Matt McGrane told him "to cease performing services", according to documents filed by Reeve's lawyer on September 10 in the Federal Court of Australia.
The papers claim the direction, on behalf of Seven, was "express and oral in a telephone call".
Reeve worked two more jobs before he was let go - ANZAC Day 2020 commemorations and reporting on the reopening of shops in Brisbane following the COVID-19 lockdown.
He was called by Sunrise executive producer Michael Pell on behalf of Seven on June 25.
"Reeve was notified of the termination of his engagement by reason of his role no longer being required to be performed by him or by anyone," the court papers, filed by Reeve, state.
Reeve is now suing Seven and has filed a statement of claim in the Federal Court over entitlements he believes he should have been paid, alleging a breach of his "ongoing contract" and misrepresentation as to his employment.
"The ongoing contract did not permit Seven to unilaterally cease making the payment of salary to Reeve, or in the alternative fees to SRP," the papers allege.
Simon Reeve Productions Pty Limited (SRP) is the second applicant on the court documents.
Reeve is claiming a declaration from Seven that he was an employee according to law for the purposes of the Fair Work Act, that they failed to provide annual leave payments, failed to provide notice and failed to provide redundancy pay.
"It was an implied term of the ongoing contract that Seven would provide Reeve with reasonable notice of termination," his statement of claims reads.
"Reasonable notice for Reeve as at 25 June 2020 given his age, seniority and length of service, was not less than 12 months' notice of termination."
It contends Seven "did not give Reeve notice of termination, or payment in lieu of notice" and further claims - from in or about 2016 - Seven failed to provide him with a pay slip "within one day of paying amounts to him in relation to the performance of work, or at all".
Reeve is claiming 12 months' salary in lieu of termination notice provided by the network, compensation for the failure to pay him annual leave and redundancy, interest and costs.
He claims the July 2020 emails from Mr Stokes and Mr McWilliam are evidence of being "treated as an employee of Seven by other officers and employees of Seven", along with being "held out as a representative of Seven" by the use of his image in promotional material.
SIMON REEVE'S CAREER AT SEVEN
Reeve started with the network in 1979 as a Perth-based sports producer and reporter before moving to London in 1982.
According to Seven, he joined the Beyond 2000 TV documentary team in 1987, "travelling the world" for six years "covering scientific breakthroughs and technical innovations".
He relocated his family to Botswana in Africa for two years before returning to Australia in 2001 and rejoining Seven.
He hosted Million Dollar Minute, It's Academic, narrated The Force and covered the equestrian and gymnastics at the Athens 2004 and Beijing 2008 Olympics.
From the early 2000s, he has also worked as a sports presenter on Weekend Sunrise.
Reeve is being represented by employment and media lawyer John Laxon of Laxon Lex Lawyers in Sydney with a first hearing date yet to be set in the Federal Court.
Seven filed a notice of address for the service of court documents on Friday, September 18.
Seven has also been contacted by news.com.au for comment.
Originally published as Billionaire's email to axed Seven star