Don Burke has denied claims he asked former children’s entertainer Wendy Dent to audition topless. (AAP/ABC News)
A woman who alleges she was sexually harassed by former Channel 9 star Don Burke is suing him for defamation.
- Wendy Dent alleges Don Burke defamed her in an interview with A Current Affair last year
- Her lawyers claim Mr Burke “greatly injured” her credit and reputation
- Mr Burke is defending the action on the grounds of truth and qualified privilege
Wendy Dent told the ABC last year Mr Burke asked her to audition topless for a role on his popular gardening show, Burke’s Backyard.
“I went from feeling like this talent with a future to feeling like I was just a pair of boobs to him,” she said.
In an interview with Channel 9’s A Current Affair program in November last year, Mr Burke denied the claims.
Ms Dent alleges Mr Burke had defamed her because he had implied she lied and that she was part of a “witch hunt” against him.
High-profile barrister Stuart Littlemore QC is representing Ms Dent.
In statement of claim filed in the court, lawyers for Ms Dent allege Mr Burke defamed her when he told A Current Affair: “These things didn’t happen”.
The claim alleges Ms Dent had been, “greatly injured in her credit, reputation and occupation and has been brought into public scandal, odium and contempt”.
It also alleges Mr Burke made, “deliberately false attribution of blame to herself [Ms Dent] and his other victims”.
Ms Dent is seeking damages and aggravated damages from Mr Burke.
She is not suing Channel 9.
Mr Burke is defending the action on the grounds of truth and qualified privilege.
A statement of defence filed to the court says Mr Burke’s comments in the interview were reasonable because they were, “merely responding to Ms Dent’s public and repeated attacks on him”.
The statement says Mr Burke never spoke to Ms Dent about an audition for a role on his TV show.
It alleges the claims by Ms Dent and four other women who were interviewed by ABC News, “were false and generated adverse publicity” against him.
“It can therefore be inferred that the plaintiff was motivated by a desire to join a witch hunt against the defendant when she lied in making the false allegations against the defendant,” the statement reads.
Channel 9 published the interview with Mr Burke, “pursuant to a social and moral duty to do so … to inform the public of the charges and the reply,” the statement says.
The case is expected to be heard next year.