Senior Sky reporter demoted after fight at Christmas party

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The Independent Online

One of the most senior correspondents at Sky television has been demoted over allegations that he seriously assaulted a colleague after a staff Christmas party.

One of the most senior correspondents at Sky television has been demoted over allegations that he seriously assaulted a colleague after a staff Christmas party.

Colin Brazier, the Brussels-based Europe correspondent for Sky News, has been recalled by his bosses following an incident outside a restaurant in the Belgian capital in the past week.

It is alleged that after the party, attended by half a dozen employees from Sky's Brussels bureau, Mr Brazier got into an argument with his producer, Julian Morrison. In the incident that followed, Mr Morrison - described by colleagues as "mild-mannered" - is said to have sustained a broken nose and damage to his front teeth.

The incident occurred minutes after a meal thought to have been attended by other Sky employees, including a cameraman, an editor, an engineer and a translator.

Mr Morrison, who has not pressed charges, went to a local hospital and was forced to take several days off work to recover from his injuries after explaining to his bosses what had happened.

Bosses at Sky News in Isleworth, London, ordered Mr Brazier back to headquarters for a disciplinary hearing and it is thought that an internal inquiry is ongoing. But they have already informed staff via e-mail of a vacancy for the Brussels job and given Mr Brazier the role of news correspondent based in London. Journalists in the Sky newsroom were said to be dismayed last night at the apparently lenient treatment of Mr Brazier compared to how bosses handled an incident three years ago involving the news anchor Frank Partridge.

Mr Partridge was sacked from his £130,000-a-year job for slapping his co-presenter and former lover, Kay Burley, in a row over who should have the last word at the end of the programme. In May this year, Mr Partridge was found guilty of assaulting his partner, Pam Downs, and was ordered to do 180 hours' community service.

One source said: "Many of those working in news are disturbed by this, especially as when Frank Partridge slapped star presenter Kay Burley in a much less serious incident he was summarily dismissed. Why, then, has Brazier escaped a similar fate?" Mr Brazier's new position could be regarded as a junior role compared to those he has held since joining the satellite broadcaster in 1997 after working for the BBC and ITV.

He has worked in some of the most prestigious jobs for Sky News as political correspondent and covering the royal beat. As Europe correspondent he has operated as a "firefighter", covering such major events this year as the Madrid bombings and the European football championships in Portugal. Last year he was dispatched to Iraq where he was among a handful of reporters with American troops at the spearhead of the invasion.

Sky News was not available for comment last night.

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