A former Channel Seven reporter who was sacked amid a chequebook journalism scandal has been caught up in a fascinating behind-the-scenes look at Harvey Weinstein's "army of spies".
The New Yorker claims the disgraced movie mogul enlisted a number of journalists, including Australian Dylan Howard, to uncover information on those accusing him of sexual assault and harassment.
Howard was sacked by Seven almost 10 years ago during the AFL's stolen medical files scandal. He was dismissed a day after being cleared by a police investigation.
After a brief stint at Monash University, the former sports reporter relocated to the United States where he resumed his media career by working the entertainment beat - even, at one point, finding himself inside Charlie Sheen's bathroom as the embattled Two and a Half Men star conducted a urine test.
On Tuesday, The New Yorker reported that Howard - now chief content officer at magazine giant American Media Inc (AMI) - shared information obtained by one of his reporters with Weinstein as part of the latter's plan to "disprove [Rose] McGowan's allegation of rape".
The report also claimed Weinstein enlisted the help of a firm using undercover agents to obtain information about McGowan's forthcoming book. One of the agents allegedly posed as a women's rights activist.
Howard told The New Yorker there was no conflict of interest between his 2016 email correspondence with Weinstein and his work for AMI. AMI publishes glossy US titles such as OK! USA, US Weekly, Men's Fitness and the National Enquirer.
"I had an obligation to protect AMI's interests by seeking out - but not publishing - truthful information about people who Mr Weinstein insisted were making false claims against him," he said.
"To the extent I provided 'off the record' information to Mr Weinstein about one of his accusers - at a time when Mr Weinstein was denying any harassment of any woman - it was information which I would never have allowed AMI to publish on the internet or in its magazines.
"I have always separated those two roles carefully and completely, and resisted Mr Weinstein's repeated efforts to have AMI titles publish favourable stories about him or negative articles about his accusers."
More than 50 people have come forward to accuse Weinstein of sexual misconduct. The former movie mogul is under police investigation in the US and United Kingdom.