A Channel 9 journalist caught faking live helicopter crosses to the Daniel Morcombe search scene has blasted the network's decision to sack him as "totally unfair".
The network yesterday sacked two Brisbane journalists and a producer, while Queensland news director Lee Anderson resigned in the fall-out from the scandal.
Nine said its decision to sack reporters Melissa Mallet and Cameron Price and producer Aaron Wakeley were necessary to retain viewers' trust after it was revealed two live helicopter crosses during weekend bulletins had been faked.
On two separate occasions viewers were told first Ms Mallet and then Mr Price were in helicopters near the Sunshine Coast. The aircraft was in fact on the station's Brisbane helipad on one occasion and circling the station's Mt Coot-tha studios on the other.
"We rightly demand accountability and high standards of others, and we must meet those expectations ourselves. Over the weekend, we did not," Nine Network Managing Director Jeffrey Browne said in a statement.
However, Mr Price last night took to Twitter to express his outrage at the sacking, raising the prospect of legal action.
He told his 1020 followers: "Thanks for all the support. I believe what happened today is completely unfair .. And I am seeking advice on the matter."
Mr Price also changed his personal description to: "Walkley and Clarion (Queensland Media Award) nominated Journo. With a clear conscience."
Mr Browne said removing the staff had "drawn a very clear line in the sand" to ensure higher standards from staff in future.
"Our clear determination is to ensure that sort of conduct is never repeated," he said.
Last night, former Nine reporter Hugh Riminton revealed on Twitter that Mr Anderson, a 25-year veteran with the network, was "away from work" when the fake crosses were aired.
He claimed Mr Anderson had resigned in protest after staff were sacked.
However, Nine's statement quoted Mr Anderson's resignation letter, indicating he had taken responsibility for the behaviour of his staff.
“This morning I tender my resignation as Director of News accepting full responsibility for the events of the last few days. I have served this network to the best of my ability for almost 25 years. It has been a privilege and I wish the team all the very best,” the letter said.
Nine apologised to viewers during Wednesday night's bulletin after a Channel Seven camera on Sunday night recorded the chopper on the ground at Mt Coot-tha when news anchor Eva Milic crossed to Mr Price who was reportedly hovering above Beerwah.
At the time, the network blamed bad weather, however news soon emerged that Saturday night's cross had also been faked.
The statement also indicated all Nine staff would be given "further training on their editorial, legal and code obligations."
Ms Mallet also tweeted: "will miss the team dearly.. Thank you for the support, a very difficult day to fathom."