Business heavyweights James Packer and Channel Nine boss David Gyngell could now face prosecution for affray with police now investigating their very public punch up at Bondi on Sunday.
New South Wales’ new Police Minister says their conduct is unacceptable while anti-violence campaigners claim it is a disgrace.
Sporting a black eye, Mr Packer returned to work this morning as police confirmed they will be investigating the billionaire businessman’s brawl with long-time friend David Gyngell.
Video emerged of the b brawl between Packer and Nine boss David Gyngell which shows three men trying to restrain the pair on a Bondi street.
The video comes after the publication of images by News Corp on Monday first exposed the stoush.
Mr Gyngell was quoted on Channel Nine as saying it was all his fault with a spokesman saying ‘he also fully accepts that he was the instigator’.
But a Nine spokesman later modified that to: “Mr Gyngell accepts that had he not turned up angry on Sunday afternoon none of it would have happened.
“He’s apologised for that, and says he’s very cranky with himself.”
Lawyers say it is a straight-out case of affray but even if it got to court, it would likely get no further.
James Packer’s mother Roslyn spotted leaving the billionaire businessman’s Bondi apartment this morning. Photo: 7News
Criminal lawyer Ljupka Subeska said: “”I don’t think that thay will ever be charged with this offence, even though there are photos and all.”
And 7News has learned that several witnesses and neighbours are refusing to co-operate.
Even one who has already appeared on national television to talk about the fight says he’s not keen to provide a statement to investigating officers.
Newly-appointed NSW Police Minister, Stuart Ayres, said: “What we’ve seen in the papers today is a group of people that are doing something that wouldn’t be accepted by anyone within the community
“Clearly they haven’t set a standard that we would adhere to anyone else.
“I’ll leave that up to the local command to determine what they do next.”
Anti violence campaigners are unhappy with what they perceive as double standards.
Paul Stanley lost his 15-year-old son in a one-punch attack.
He said: “These are supposed leaders of our country aand to carry on like that is just crazy.”
Mr Stanley has called on both men to make a million dollar donation to his charity campaign.
And in what could be seen as Mr Packer taking another swipe at the Nine boss today he had lunch with arch enemy, Channel Seven owner Kerry Stokes
Mr Stokes said: “Everything’s fine.”
And when asked if he had any advice for him, replied ‘no, James doesn’t need the advice, really’.
“[He’s} Probably a little bruised, but otherwise ok.”
Criminal charges, if proven, would be catastrophic for both Gyngell and Packer, and would have enormous implications for Mr Packer’s casino operations.
His plans to build a $440 million casino resort in Sri Lanka have already hit some serious hurdles, with locals worried about the its effect on the community and Buddhist beliefs.
Packer also has interests in Japan, where there has been opposition to casinos, and some spectators say this latest ‘public relations black eye’ may prove costly.
It’s not a good look for Packer’s Crown casino development at Barangaroo either, which was controversially granted an exemption from harsh new lockout laws.
The state passed the legislation follow the fatal one-punch deaths of teenagers Thomas Kelly, and Daniel Christie.
Sydney CBD venues can no longer sell alcohol after 3am and must enforce a 1.30am lockout. Bottle shops must close at 10pm.
Nine Network CEO David Gyngell speaking after the Nine Entertainment Company listed on the ASX in Sydney. Photo: AAP.
On Sunday, a witness said he heard Mr Gyngell yelling on a phone that he was waiting for Mr Packer, who arrived home a short while later.
No words were exchanged as the two “went at it hammer and tongs”, Ten said the witness told them.
The fight had to be broken up by Mr Packer’s security guards and a limousine driver.
The publication of the two images by News Corp Australia on Monday comes after a reported bidding war, reportedly topping $200,000, to procure what’s believed to be a set of photographs taken as the two former mates came to blows outside Packer’s Bondi apartment on Sunday.
There are reportedly more than 50 photos in the set.
As for the pair’s friendship, Nine Network staff are not worried.
“I think Gyng and James are as good as they can be, they’re good mates. They’ll get through it,” Today host Karl Stefanovic said.
The business heavyweights released a joint statement yesterday saying they’re still friends after the bruising brawl.
“We have been friends for 35 years and still are,” they said.
“In that time we have had our fair share of ups and downs.
“We respect each other and neither of us will be commenting further.”
The incident also comes just days after Miranda Kerr, with whom Packer has been rumoured to be romantically involved, returned to Australia on May 2 on a promotional visit.
The relationship between the two is said to have soured after Mr Packer separated from his wife Erica Baxter last year.
Other media reports suggest Mr Packer believed that a Nine satellite news van had been parked outside his house on Sunday.
Packer’s life-long friendship with his former best man reportedly soured after he ended a seven-year marriage from his second wife, Erica. Photo: AAP.
What the photos show
At least 50 photos show the two men facing off at each other as the confrontation begins. They show a giant James Packer towering over the small, bearded Gyngell, who wasn’t wearing any shoes.
The two men begin grappling and wrestling each other to the ground, where Packer is on top and secures Gyngell in a headlock. Seconds later, another man grabs packer around the mouth in a bid to pull him away.
As Packer walks away, Gyngell remains, looking shaken.
Bondi resident Chris Walker, who claims to have witnessed the incident, tweeted about a “massive street fight” outside the Packer home on Sunday afternoon.
He later described the fight on his Facebook page.
“Holy crap, big street fight outside my house…Not thugs, James Packer … And some other angry bloke going toe to toe – total brawl … Wow”.
“Packer packed a punch but copped a couple of hits straight to the jaw… Then they all fell on the concrete fence and I think the other guy broke his face … They were looking for teeth after he left.”