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'We cannot rewrite history': Nine chief addresses staff about Don Burke allegations

Nine Network chief executive Hugh Marks has addressed employees, promising free counselling after former staffers made allegations against Burke's Backyard star Don Burke for sexual misconduct.

In an email to staff on Wednesday, Mr Marks said they would take steps to ensure former employees "perhaps with old grievances" are supported, with counselling and a phone line created to allow staff to report bad behaviour.

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Don Burke denies allegations

Don Burke has denied extensive allegations of sexual harassment on A Current Affair by stating that he could not remember any of the incidents and would never say the things he was quoted as saying.

"As much as we might like to, sometimes we unfortunately cannot rewrite history," Mr Marks said in the email.

"In light of the appalling allegations this week of sexual assault, harassment and misconduct by Don Burke I wanted to write to all staff to reaffirm Nine's commitment to maintaining a culture that is inclusive, supportive and respectful."

Former Nine employees were encouraged to call the new telephone line for an independent counselling service to report past behaviour at no cost.

"It's my job as CEO, and that of your senior leaders, to ensure that people who have been treated poorly will be heard, and that they will get appropriate support if they need it.

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"Any matters which are raised and require further action will be addressed appropriately either internally or, if required, externally of Nine."

He emphasised Nine's "zero tolerance" policy of inappropriate workplace behaviour, saying employees were entitled to come to a safe workplace confident that inappropriate behaviour would be dealt with effectively.

"Nine has a number of policies and procedures in place to ensure expectations in relation to behaviour in the workplace are clear. We also have clear guidelines on how we manage grievances, misconduct and support staff if any such concerns arise," he said.

The policies and guidelines were noted to include staff, contractors, sub-contractors, agents, consultants and temporary staff.

He also mentioned the "Nine Learning" training programs, encouraging staff to complete assigned modules.

On Tuesday, a Nine spokesman said it had "no plans" to bring Burke back on air in 2018, denying there had been discussions for his return.

Burke has denied all the allegations against him "absolutely" and said some came from people who "still bear a strong grudge against me".

Former Channel Nine chief executive officer David Gyngell, who made the "commercial decision" to axe Burke's Backyard in 2004, declined to comment on the Burke allegations on Wednesday, though added that as a current director of Nine, he "fully endorsed" network management's response to the matter.

with Andrew Hornery

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