After two conflicting stories about Grill’d co-founder Geoff Bainbridge’s ‘ice pipe’ video emerged in the press, The Age and the Sydney Morning Herald have removed their articles.
“We believe we were badly misled,” said Gay Alcorn, editor at The Age.
It comes after The Age’s chief reporter Chip Le Grand wrote a very different version of events that now appears to be untrue.
Originally, footage was obtained by The Australian showing the Chief Executive of Lark Distillery allegedly smoking ice at his home in 2021. Sharri Markson and Kylar Loussikian published the story after speaking to Bainbridge’s lawyers. They alleged that the 2015 timestamp on the videos had been edited to 2021 to make the videos appear more recent. It was further claimed that the videos were ‘unverified’ and possibly fake. Bainbridge was approached for comment.
In The Age’s version of events, Bainbridge – who called The Age instead of replying to Sharri Markson’s 24-hour request for comment – was the victim of extortion. Following this claim, Bainbridge alleged that the damning video was released to News Corp Australia when he refused to pay the thousands of dollars demanded by a criminal gang.
Bainbridge alleged that he had been set-up in a south-east Asian bar. Even though he confirmed to The Age that it was him in the video, he insisted that it was filmed in 2015. Sharri Markson has contradicted that claim, writing that the room in which the video was filmed contains matching features of his current home purchased in 2020.
“Bainbridge claims it was part of an ongoing extortion attempt that began six years ago, but my sources say the videos were filmed more recently,” said Sharri Markson.
In the now deleted article, The Age wrote, “The rest is a jumble. He [Bainbridge] confirms it is him in the video but says he isn’t an ice user and doesn’t know how he came to have the drug or what else he was given.”
At the time, The Age believed that the collection of documents and text messages that they had been given to verify that Bainbridge’s version of events were true. These were alleged to show financial interactions between Bainbridge and his extortionists.
Later, The Age withdrew this belief.
As more information came to light, Bainbridge resigned his position at the company.
“The former chief executive of Lark Distilling, who resigned from the publicly listed company house before the video was broadcast, appears to have misled The Age and Herald about where and when it [the video] was taken,” wrote Chip Le Grand.
“If Mr Bainbridge confected parts of the story to The Age and Herald, it means he could have misrepresented the financial reports and text messages provided to his lawyer, a crisis management expert, and the authors of the Control Risks report.”
This is not the first time that The Age reporter Chip Le Grand has been caught up in ‘fake news’. Rebel News reporter Avi Yemini spoke to Chip Le Grand over an article he wrote in 2021 titled, Gangland lawyer sues far-right agitator over defamatory posts after meeting him in the media section at a lockdown protest.
Avi Yemini took Chip Le Grand through the inaccuracies in his article while on hidden camera – none of which have been retracted.