The Australian reports that Australia’s Network Ten has hit back at Kerry Stokes’ Seven West Media, saying it will not be bullied in the court dispute over programming executive, John Stephens.

After 11 years at Seven, Stephens, 67, had announced he was joining Ten earlier in March, but reneged on the decision shortly afterwards, blaming it on the influence of painkillers.

On March 18, his email to Ten chief executive Hamish McLennan was leaked. It stated: “Now that I have stopped the painkillers and other drugs and with a clear mind, feel that I can no longer accept the appointment and will not be commencing employment with Ten.”

In response to the leak, a spokesman for Ten said there had been extensive negotiations with Stephens in relation to his contract with the company.

In a statement, Ten said there had been a lot of noise and misinformation about Stephens’ negotiations with the network, which is now the subject of a battle in the Supreme Court of NSW.

“Network Ten wants to get the truth of what happened after that contract was signed by Mr Stephens,” Ten said in a statement.

“The leaking of confidential documents to the media only strengthens our resolve.

“We believe Seven Network, Bruce McWilliam, Tim Worner and others have a case to answer.