PROVEN LIAR: Former Age journalist, now Star News Group boss pleads guilty to perjury

linnelliar Former Age journalist now in charge of Geelong and western suburbs Star News Group titles, Stephen Linnell has pleaded guilty to three counts of perjury and three of revealing a secret hearing in Melbourne’s Magistrates Court today.

The offences related to the former Age veteran’s brief but illustrious time as the well paid Media Director for Victoria Police.

He had formed a close pact of power with knockabout blokes Noel Ashby and Police union boss Paul Mullett, although later ratted them out in return for what many anticipate will be a cushy plea bargain deal with authorities that will keep him out of jail.

The prosecutor told the court “Linnell had jeopardised the investigation into the murder of male prostitute Shane Chartres-Abbott”.

At one stage a police officer had been thought responsible for the murder, although apparently he is no longer under investigation for that crime, according to Police sources familiar with the matter who spoke to VEXNEWS on condition of anonymity.

VEXNEWS understands that Linnell is not expected to receive a custodial penalty for his crimes and will be retained in his senior editorial capacity at the financially strapped and heavily indebted Star News Group, the owners of which are believed to be negotiating with their principal lender over the survival of the company as ad sales plummet.

The prosecutor told the Magistrates Court Linnell had lied under oath to an Office of Police Integrity hearing to protect himself from looming trouble prior to realising he’d been caught on tape:

“He admitted (at an OPI hearing on November 12, 2007) that he had given untrue evidence. Mr Linnell admitted discussing Operation Briars with Mr Ashby… further Mr Linnell made admissions that he had disclosed the existence of his summons to Mr Ashby, and that he had discussed the hearing,”

Reflecting on the Star News Group journalist’s crime, the prosecutor described his offences as gravely serious:

“These are serious perjuries indeed.”

The Magistrate agreed saying the effect of what Linnell had done alerted the target of Police investigation to the investigation. He found the charges proven.

He will be sentenced at a later date.

VEXNEWS understands that Linnell is not expected to receive a custodial penalty for his crimes and will be retained in his senior editorial capacity at the financially strapped and heavily indebted Star News Group, the owners of which are believed to be negotiating with their principal lender over the survival of the company as ad sales plummet.

Some will be critical of a newspaper employing in a senior editorial capacity, reporting facts to the public, a man convicted of lying under oath, perjuring himself. “If he can’t tell the truth even after swearing he would do so and realising that the consequences of lying could be jail time, how can readers rely on what’s printed in newspapers he is editing?” one critic of Star News Group argued this afternoon.

Another Age journalist who also pleaded guilty to a crime, gossip columnist Lawrence Money, was put on the first offender’s diversion programme which required him to pay $10000 to Ronald McDonald House. Little wonder he doesn’t like Big Macs. Money pleaded guilty to child endangering offences.

Linnell is likely to receive a tougher penalty than that though, legal observers believe.

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5 Comments

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5 responses to “PROVEN LIAR: Former Age journalist, now Star News Group boss pleads guilty to perjury

  1. Anonymous

    ** He learned to lie at The Age **

    Gold

  2. A-Train

    You gotta feel for the remainder of the Star reporters and staff, who do such an admirable job under duress and at far less wages than their rival suburban reporters.
    They do an honest enough job, but must tarnish their reputations taking orders from this man!

  3. Anonymous

    Linnell wont be working at the Star Group if he’s doin 6-9 in HM Barwon.

    Although he learned to lie at the Age, perhaps he learned to rat at the age too, selling out Ashby and Mullett to try and keep his stinkin ass outa prison.

  4. anon

    Enjoy your time away Fish.

  5. Straight Talker

    A-Train, I presume you are a staff member of the Star News Group as this paper, in the South East is known as nothing more than a rag with some of the most biased and unprofessional management and staff going around. I think that is why they are paid less than other professional journalist’s employed by other local papers. You only need to look at one so-called reporter Jim Mynard who is the most corrupt reported going around. THis man has taken bribes by, local businesses, local Councillors, Local council CEO’s and anyone else who will pay him under the table payments. He got so bad that his wife, a lovely lady, was so embarrassed by the poor excuse for a man that she left him. But, hey, don’t take my word, all you need to do is read their rag and compare it to the more informed, balanced, professional articles whic appear in the Fairfax and Leader newspapers. Chaulk and Cheese.

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