Wild footage emerges of Peter Costello knocking journalist to the ground

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Nine chairman Peter Costello has denied shoving a journalist to the ground with his shirt during a wild doorway interview at Canberra airport.

Australia’s longest-serving finance minister refused to answer reporter’s questions as he walked through the airport on Thursday afternoon.

But witnesses compared the stature of the former Liberal Party deputy leader to that of a “sumo wrestler” after the 6ft 4in former MP told reporter Liam Mendes, who was writing for The Australian.

Previously, there had been numerous allegations of bullying and harassment at Nine and a complaint about the conduct of former news director Darren Wick.

No allegations were made against the chairman personally.

While being questioned about the issue at Mendes Airport, Mr Costello says, “Nice to see you,” to a passerby before looming over the reporter’s camera.

“No, no,” says the reporter before falling backwards.

The journalist then falls to the ground and falls backwards.

Mr. Costello, standing over Mendes, then turns and walks away while the reporter lies on the ground.

The journalist then falls to the ground, falls backwards and says: “You just attacked me.”

A man can be heard laughing as Mendes lies on the tiled floor of the airport.

The Nine chairman was in the nation’s capital to attend the opening of Nine’s newly refurbished Canberra office from the press gallery.

Mr Costello told reporters in Parliament House that any suggestion he should resign was “nonsense” and that he had “not laid a finger” on the reporter.

“As I walked past him, he ran into an advertising poster and fell down. I didn’t hit him. If he’s upset about it, I’m sorry. But I didn’t hit him,” Mr Costello told Nine Newspapers.

“I wasn’t angry. Just like you guys here, if you’re reversing and there’s a poster behind you, you can run into it. I’ve seen it a million times, I’ve seen it here in the Parliament building a million times, reporters reversing into the bollards and falling over,” he said.

Mr Costello strongly denied any suggestion that he had attacked the journalist.

“It’s not an attack. Like I said, he was walking backwards. He hit an advertising billboard. I didn’t do anything to stop him, or a fist, or anything.”

Mr. Costello was approached by Mendes, who was The Australianon Thursday afternoon, where he can be seen on video asking the Chairman of the Nine a series of questions.

“Mr. Costello. My name is Liam Mendes from The Australian. Do you support Mike Sneesby as CEO and his handling of the Darren Wick saga?” he asks.

“Did you know about the allegations against Mr Wick before he left Nine?”

Despite continuing to bombard him with questions, Mr. Costello does not answer.

Mendes then asks: “Well, you have to answer the questions, Mr. Costello…”

Shortly thereafter, Costello appears to make physical contact with Mendes, who says “No, no” before falling to the ground.

After Mendes is back on his feet, he continues the pursuit outside the airport to a parking lot.

“Journalists who have worked for Nine speak to people like this every day,” he said.

“Mr. Costello, you can’t do that, you can’t do that, it’s all caught on camera,” the reporter said.

Witness Mark O’Hare, who was at the airport, told Mendes he saw Mr Costello making contact with the journalist.

“I just saw this guy attacking … and then I saw him (Mendes) lying on the ground, his shit everywhere, and then he (Costello) just went on his way, wandered away,” he said.

Mr O’Hare described Mr Costello as “a bloody big guy, I didn’t realise how big he was.”

“He flew through (Mendes) like a sumo wrestler,” Mr O’Hare said.

Another male passerby said he witnessed the incident.

“I was just outside smoking a cigarette in front of the door,” he said.

When asked if he was OK, Mendes said, “I’m just a little shaken up.”

As the Nine chairman got into his car, Mendes asked: “Is this behaviour really appropriate for a working journalist?”

In an interview with Sky News, presenter Steve Price said the video was worrying.

“Peter Costello will have to come out and explain why he felt it necessary to physically attack Liam Mendes of all people,” he said.

“I mean, we’ve all lived with A Current Affair all our lives. The Channel 9 cameramen are out there every day of the week doing just that. Is he in trouble here?”

Journalist Sophie Elsworth said the footage “speaks for itself”.

“To be clear, Liam Mendes is a very good reporter for The Australian and he did his job today,” she said.

“There is contact. The recordings speak for themselves.”

“This now requires answers from Nine.”

A Nine spokeswoman denied that Mr Costello deliberately pushed the journalist.

“Upon arrival at Canberra airport, the chairman was approached by a journalist from The Australian,” said spokeswoman Victoria Buchan.

“While the film was filming the chairman walking backwards, the journalist collided with an advertising poster and fell. At no point did the chairman hit the journalist.”

Mr Costello is the father of Nine reporter Seb Costello, who made his name on A Current Affair through a series of interviews, including with well-known AFL agent Ricky Nixon, who was accused by Nine of “attacking” the A Current Affair reporter in the street.

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