US TV exec loses job over charity e-mail

A senior TV executive in the US has lost her job for using her company e-mail to raise funds for families of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370.

Ms Darlene Tipton, who was vice-president of standards and practices for the Fox Cable Networks Group, claims she wanted to use the fund-raising website to arrange rapid financial aid for MH370 passengers' loved ones, reported new website Nine MSN.

She e-mailed Ms Sarah Bajc, an American whose boyfriend Philip Wood was aboard the doomed Malaysian Airlines flight.

Ms Tipton told Ms Bajc that she could potentially raise more than US$15 million (S$19 million) - if she waived the right to seek money via the courts.

Ms Bajc, who has made regular television appearances since MH370 disappeared on March 8, suspected a scam and alerted Fox, said aviation blogger Christine Negroni.

Fox spokesman Scott Grogin told AP that Ms Tipton's "conduct and communications" violated company policy.

"As soon as we became aware, we took appropriate steps," said Mr Grogin, confirming that Ms Tipton has left Fox after more than 25 years.

Ms Tipton claimed she was surprised to be fired because other employees use their Fox e-mail for personal business.

But she plans to continue raising money for Mr Wood and the other missing MH370 passengers.

Her lawyer Stan Lieber said there is no law against trying to raise money for someone, even without their permission.

"They're not trying to make money out of this, they're trying to help the victims," Mr Lieber said.

Plans to sue

Ms Tipton's husband, writer and producer Ken Tipton, said she plans to sue Fox for wrongful termination.

Mr Tipton also revealed the bizarre inspiration for his wife's fund-raising efforts.

While in hospital in Los Angeles shortly after MH370's disappearance, Mr Tipton had a medicine-induced hallucination that he was speaking to the passengers and saw the plane's "real" fate. The vision compelled the couple to launch the GoFundMe page.

Meanwhile, the search for debris from MH370 entered its 44th day yesterday, as Australian search officials said a crucial series of sonar scans of the Indian Ocean floor could be completed within a week.

The air, surface and underwater search is now focused on footage taken by a US Navy deep sea drone, which has narrowed its target range to a tight 10km circle of sea floor, reported Reuters.

This article was published on April 21 in The New Paper.Get The New Paper for more stories.