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Don Burke Rejects Harassment Allegations

Former top rating Nine television personality Don Burke has been accused of sexually harassing and indecently assaulting women who worked on his gardening program in the 1980s and 1990s.

The man who hosted Bourke's Backyard for almost 17 years until it was cancelled in 2004 is"deeply hurt and outraged" by the claims, which he says were made by former employees with grudges against him and were baseless.

"I also believe that this publication is opportunistic and intended to severely damage my reputation, by trying to link my alleged behaviour with the appalling behaviour of Harvey Weinstein, which has gained a lot of media traction," Mr Burke said in a statement.

"The bitter irony is that I have had a lifelong opposition to sexism and misogyny. Burke's Backyard was a lone bastion of anti-misogyny from its inception in 1987."

A joint investigative journalism project by the ABC and Fairfax Media has catalogued a series of allegations against Burke by more than 50 former employees of Burke's Backyard.

Former researcher Louise Langdon accused Mr Burke of harassment and groping. Bridget Ninness, a former producer, accused Burke of bullying and crude behaviour.

Burke has reportedly hired defamation expert Patrick George, a senior partner of Kennedys Australia.

In his statement Burke described himself as "a classic sitting duck" because he not only presented the program but ran the production company behind it, meaning he inevitably had to fire some employees.

He said he chose many women, including nutritionist Rosemary Stanton and award-winning author Jackie French, to be on his program because they were the best in their field.

"My staff and I regarded the CTC productions workplace as being a very safe workplace and I am very happy to provide female and male witnesses to affirm this," Mr Burke said.

Nine said it had procedures to deal with such allegations.

"We have had in place for some time now robust policies and procedures for dealing with complaints and to support our staff in such circumstances," Nine said in a statement.

AAP

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