A former colleague of the star A Current Affair reporter charged with child pornography offences says he is "a bit of a Peter Pan" who has an interest in younger men.
Police raided Channel 9's Sydney headquarters yesterday before charging veteran journalist Ben McCormack, 42, with sending child pornography material.
A source, who declined to be named, told News Corp Australia that McCormack, a volunteer Bondi lifesaver, had been warned by friends about his interest in younger men.
"He's always on Grindr and having dates with young-looking men. He was a bit of a Peter Pan, didn't want to get old," the source said.
The former colleague claimed "he would often show photos of guys he was seeing and they would always be baby-faced teens but a legal age".
"His life is lifesaving, but he mentors and trains young boys there," the source said.
Police said they would allege in court that McCormack was engaged in sexually explicit conversations about children with an adult male and discussed child pornography.
In a statement following his release from police custody, a Nine spokeswoman said "while justice MUST take its course, given the serious nature of the allegations [the network] has immediately suspended Ben McCormack".
McCormack was arrested by detectives from the Sex Crimes Squad during a vehicle stop in Moore Park, Sydney, about 7.30am yesterday.
Video footage of the arrest - released by police in an unusual move - shows McCormack standing on the side of the road while investigators search his car.
Detectives obtained search warrants and raided his Alexandria home and the Nine Network offices at Willoughby, where they seized computers, a mobile phone, and electronic storage devices.
McCormack was taken to Redfern police station and charged with using a carriage service for child pornography material.
Police said in a statement that strike force detectives commenced an investigation after becoming aware of a matter via the Joint Anti Child Exploitation Team, a joint-agency approach to tackling crimes against children.
ACA TO REPORT ON ARREST 'WITHOUT FEAR OR FAVOUR'
A Current Affair has responded on air, host Leila McKinnon assuring viewers that Channel 9 would cover the story "without fear or favour".
McKinnon stressed the allegations were related to McCormack's "personal conduct" and "in no way reflect his behaviour at A Current Affair or the Nine Network".
"Here at A Current Affair we've always given it to you straight and told you how it is, so let's get into it," McKinnon said on last night's programme.
"Tonight one of our most senior reporters is facing charges involving child pornography offences.
"A Current Affair has a long history of pursuing offenders in these types of cases and we intend to cover this story without fear or favour."
NINE HEADQUARTERS RAIDED
Shocked staff members looked on as at least seven NSW Police officers entered the Nine Network's Sydney headquarters armed with evidence bags on Thursday morning.
Police searched the entire ACA office at Willoughby and seized a computer on site.
News.com.au understands members of the network's legal team were in the ACA office at Willoughby as the police raid unfolded this morning. Staff members were asked to leave the office as a search warrant was carried out by up to eight detectives.
McCormack's lawyer, Sam Macedone, told news.com.au on Thursday that he hadn't had a chance to talk to his client "about what's been alleged".
"In respect to certain investigations that are being carried out by NSW Police, he's been arrested, and I expect he's going to be charged," Mr Macedone said.
"I expect I will know what the allegation is soon.
"Police are not in a position to give that information to me."
McCormack was the first journalist to confront disgraced Hey Dad! star Robert Hughes over child sex abuse allegations in 2010.
McCormack confronted Hughes for ACA in Singapore about claims he abused children including cast members of the 1980s Australian sitcom.
"I'm absolutely, totally shocked at the allegations and I deny, absolutely deny, everything," Hughes told McCormack.
The programme's investigation later prompted a police investigation into the allegations against Hughes.
Nine News boss Darren Wick told staff the incident wasn't connected to ACA or the Nine Network.
"I can confirm that officers from the New South Wales police have been at TCN (Television Corporation NSW) this morning investigating matters relating to a staff member at A Current Affair," Mr Wick wrote in a staff email.
"It's a personal matter that does not relate to the programme or Nine. We are co-operating with the police. However, we are not in a position to comment any further as this is an ongoing investigation."
A spokesman for NSW Police confirmed they had conducted the operation.
"The investigation related to a personal matter of an employee," the spokesman said.
Police inquiries are continuing.
McCormack describes himself as a "humanist, twin, boy band wrangler and lifesaver" in his Twitter bio.
His arrest comes on the one year anniversary of 60 Minutes' botched child recovery operation in Beirut, Lebanon, which left Nine's reputation in tatters.
McCormack was granted strict conditional bail to appear at Downing Centre Local Court on Monday May 1.