Fox News CEO Roger Ailes Says He 'Will Be Defended Vigorously' Against Gretchen Carlson's 'Offensive' Sexual Harassment Claims

"This is a retaliatory suit," Ailes claims in a statement obtained by PEOPLE

Photo: Wesley Mann/FOX News via Getty

Fox News Chairman and CEO Roger Ailes has issued a statement regarding former Fox News anchor Gretchen Carlson‘s sexual harassment lawsuit.

“Gretchen Carlson’s allegations are false,” Ailes says in a statement obtained by PEOPLE. “This is a retaliatory suit for the network’s decision not to renew her contract, which was due to the fact that her disappointingly low ratings were dragging down the afternoon lineup. When Fox News did not commence any negotiations to renew her contract, Ms. Carlson became aware that her career with the network was likely over and conveniently began to pursue a lawsuit.”

Adding, “Ironically, FOX News provided her with more on-air opportunities over her 11-year tenure than any other employer in the industry, for which she thanked me in her recent book. This defamatory lawsuit is not only offensive, it is wholly without merit and will be defended vigorously.”

On Wednesday, Carlson sued Ailes alleging that her former employer “sabotaged her career because she refused sexual advances and complained about severe and pervasive sexual harassment.”

Carlson claims the biggest form of Ailes’ retaliation was her firing from Fox News on June 23, nine months after allegedly “ostracizing, marginalizing and shunning” The Real Story anchor before suggesting she engage in a sexual relationship with him.

According to the legal filing: “As a direct and proximate result of her refusing his sexual advances and in retaliation for Carlson’s complaints about discrimination and harassment, Ailes terminated her employment, causing her significant, emotional and professional harm.”

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