NSW police scrap plans to appoint Steve Jackson to $400,000 a year job

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NSW Police has scrapped plans to appoint the former Spotlight producer Steve Jackson, who worked on the program’s interview with Bruce Lehrmann, as the new chief of their media unit.

Veteran journalist Steve Jackson’s appointment has sparked a storm of controversy ever since it was announced last week on a “temporary” basis.

But in a statement, NSW police confirmed on Thursday afternoon that the planned appointment will now not proceed. News.com.au has contacted Jackson for comment.

“The NSW Police Force has ceased the temporary appointment for the role of the Executive Director, Public Affairs Branch,” the statement read.

“To best serve the interests of the NSW Police and community, the Executive Director, Public Affairs Branch needs to be able to fulfil the duties of the role free from external distractions and ongoing media attention.”

“The current arrangements for the role will continue for the time being.”

NSW Police Commissioner Karen Webb revealed this week that security checks over her new media spin doctor were “ongoing” leaving the door open to reversing the appointment.

In an extraordinary interview on 2GB radio, Commissioner Webb told Hadley on Monday that the “interim” appointment to the $400,000 a year role could be reversed pending those security checks.

TV producer Steve Jackson was appointed to the role of Executive Director of public Affairs for the NSW Police Force, advising Ms Webb on a temporary basis for six months. Jackson, who quit his job at the Seven Network in anticipation of taking on the role, was the senior producer on the Spotlight program that paid Mr Lehrmann’s rent for a year in exchange for an interview in which he denied raping Brittany Higgins.

The controversial appointment has prompted backlash, and the former journalist has told friends he has become the target of a vicious whispering campaign about his “colourful past”.

Asked if revelations over the last week could see her revisit her decision to give him the job Commissioner Webb said: “I won’t pre-empt that, but that could happen.”

“Information has been provided to us and it is being viewed as part of that employment process.”

She also confirmed that in the wake of a bizarre scandal involving a photograph of Mr Jackson sitting on a couch with a nude model, that certain information had been passed on to police and was being reviewed.

News.com.au does not suggest that Mr Jackson was unsuitable for the role or that those security checks played any part in the decision not to proceed with the appointment.

There is no suggestion of any sexual activity or criminal wrongdoing involving Jackson and the former model, who told The Saturday Telegraph that she took her top off in front of the journalist because it was a hot night and that she was at her “lowest ebb” and suffering mental health issues at the time she was interviewed.

Mr Jackson’s appointment has dominated the headlines after it emerged a week ago following the sacking of the incumbent Liz Deegan.

News.com.au does not suggest that Mr Jackson, who has held senior roles on 60 Minutes, Spotlight and The Australian newspaper is not suitable for the role.

But Commissioner Webb volunteered on Monday that the appointment may not be extended after that six month period expires.

“So when someone is first appointed it’s a baseline check,” Ms Webb said to 2GB’s Ray Hadley.

“What happens after that, the person ticks a box to say that they are happy to have security vetting which is more thorough.

“So we’re in that process now.”

Former model Tziporah Malkah told the Saturday Telegraph over the weekend that she was frustrated she has been drawn back into a drama, after claiming another man (not Jackson) had shared the photograph of her.

Malkah, is the former fashion model, actor and television personality who was previously known as Kate Fisher and engaged to James Packer.

Pressure on Karen Webb over new media chief

“With total disregard to my privacy, consent or feeling, further emphasises the point that I’ve previously made of how men in all spheres of life … appear to treat women as disposable objects,” Malkah said.

“How is it that this is still happening?

“That I am being dragged into some war that currently has no bearing on my life, because when men go to war they don’t care about what is used as ammunition?

“If it happens to be a woman, who was down on her luck at the time and can be used to throw a bit of tarnish on a man’s reputation, so be it.

“The core issue here is consent and the sexual objectification of women and the removal of our voice and our rights.” Last week, NSW police minister Yasmin Catley has broken her silence on the crisis engulfing the new spin doctor for the state’s top cop.

She’s revealed that TV producer Steve Jackson, who is poised to take on role of advising NSW’s police commissioner Karen Webb, will take on the role “temporarily” pending another process before a permanent appointment.

Jackson has told friends he is the target of a vicious whispering campaign about his “colourful past” with some of the controversy relating to Instagram posts by Bruce Lehrmann featuring Jackson in the back of a black convertible that the journalist maintains are unremarkable, along with his selfies with former model Tziaporah Malkah, who graced the cover of Vogue as Kate Fischer.

“Mr Jackson has been appointed to the role of Executive Director, Public Affairs NSWPF on a temporary basis for six months,” a spokesman for the Minister for Police and Counter-terrorism said.

“This appointment was made through a suitability assessment process in accordance with the rules of the Government Sector Employment (NSW Police Force) Rules 2017.

“This involved assessment of Mr Jackson’s suitability for the role against key selection criteria.

“An interview process and National Police Check for non-sworn police officers were undertaken.

“A full merit process for an ongoing appointment to the role will be conducted in coming months. Under the GSE Act, consultation regarding senior executive appointments is permitted but all appointments are the decision of the heads of agencies.”

Mr Jackson said he had no comment on the matter.

A spokesperson for the NSW Police Minister said: “this is a matter for the police.”

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