When the air-kissed darling of the Left’s most celebrated causes, prominent legal identity Julian Burnside QC criticises The Age newspaper, you know something is very rotten in the state of the Spencer Street Soviet. The Age loves Burnside and normally the feeling is mutual.
BURNSIDE OUTRAGED AT THE AGE’S DISGRACE
Bunside, the poster boy of The Age’s favourite campaigns, human rights for alleged terrorists, immigration asylum seekers, striking dock workers et al, has today launched a verbal Scud missile aimed right at the damaged editorship of new Age boss Paul Ramadge.
It follows Ramadge’s recent controversial decision to publish a false story that incorrectly claimed retired football champion James Hird was planning a comeback at Essendon. Hird denied it the morning it ran and said he was puzzled he wasn’t even asked for comment by its author Rohan Connolly
The Herald Sun’s John Ferguson spoke with the senior barrister and reports Burnside making some very powerful observations about The Age’s disgraceful publication of the unvetted and fanciful claims of Minister Theo Theophanous’s accuser.
Most chillingly of all, for Age readers, Burnside compared the the newspaper’s attacks on Theophanous with the dreadful situation faced by Dr Mohamed Haneef, who was shabbily treated by the press and the federal police last year. If The Age had the power to do so, it would no doubt turn the quiet Indian doctor turned SIM card collector into a secular saint of some kind.
At one stage they appeared in 2007 to be contemplating changing the masthead to the Daily Haneef, so outraged were they about their perception that Howard and the ever-crafty Kevin Andrews was attempting to demonise the doc.
AN eminent lawyer has likened the treatment of embattled Brumby government minister Theo Theophanous with that of one-time terror suspect Mohamed Haneef.
Julian Burnside, QC, said yesterday the decision to publicly air the allegations of rape by an anonymous woman had denied the minister justice.
Mr Burnside said that, like the Haneef case, a series of claims was made before the person involved was interviewed or charged.
Mr Theophanous, he said, was effectively “defenceless”.
“I think it amounts to trial by media and it’s a very rough way to do things,” Mr Burnside said.
“It really is like the Haneef case. The allegations are made in public, very damaging allegations, they’re made in public before even he’s been interviewed by the police. It puts him in a very difficult position.”
THE DEPRAVITY OF AN AGENDA-RIDDEN NEWSROOM
The Age’s reporting clearly troubled many people, including those with some regard for the rule of law and a proper legal process.
After an investigation that ran for eighteen months, Police are still yet to interview the Minister or even inform him of what he’s accused of doing. For that, he has to buy a copy of The Age newspaper.
Burnside continues, making the point that Theophanous might not ever be afforded an opportunity to set the record straight in the event he’s not charged with offences based on the seemingly implausible claims of the accuser, who admits to being a psychiatric patient and suffering from mental illness.
He (Burnside) said that if the police decided not to charge Mr Theophanous, he might never have the chance to defend himself properly.
“So no charges are brought and he never has a chance to clear his name publicly. That’s immensely damaging for someone in his position.
“It seems to me quite a wrong way for anyone in his position to be dealt with.”
Mr Burnside added that it would be “reprehensible” if police were leaking to the media details of the inquiry.
Victoria Police are expected to respond to public pressure soon and interview the Minister this coming week, with authorities expected to announce the result of the eighteen month long investigation very soon. It appears almost certain that aspects of Police conduct, including alleged leaking to Age multi-millionaire crime reporter, John Silvester, will be referred to the Office of Police Integrity for a possible public hearing.