You’re Not Listening – Craig Thomson’s trial by media

Posted: December 2, 2013 in HSU Saga, Media, Politics

Today Craig Thomson is back in a Magistrates Court in Melbourne as the trial for the criminal case against him commences.

However before that commences I have something that has to be cleared up.

Back on the 12th September 2013 I posted an article called “Pieces Of Truth” that looked at the coverage of Craig Thomson’s criminal case by News Ltd, particularly The Australian.

My article made mention of a particularly misleading article published in The Australian dated 3rd September 2013. That article provided coverage of Craig Thomson’s criminal case mention in court the previous day.

In my article I stated;

“According to Greg James QC the article in The Australian has been referred to the Executive Officer Of The Court by the magistrate for possible charges of contempt of court for its authors Ean Higgins and Pia Ackerman.”

This statement has been disputed. As I was not in attendance at the court that day, I have approached the court to ensure that what is reported here is factual.

Ean Higgins - Questionable reporting

Ean Higgins – Questionable reporting

Independent Australia has obtained a recording of the court mention from the court.

This is something Independent Australia has had to pay for, and it has taken quite a long time to receive it, as initially the court sent a recording of the wrong proceeding.

Whilst it is unfortunate that we are not allowed to make the recording public, something that I find odd given the court is open to the public, I am now able to provide a transcript of what was actually said by the Magistrate on the matter.

As it turns out Ean Higgins and Pia Ackerman were not referred for contempt of court, so I have corrected the record on that post now to bring it into line.

I was informed by a source whom was in court for that mention that this was indeed the case, however they were mistaken, and for my part in reporting that error I apologise.

In the interests of setting the record straight below is a transcript of what Magistrate Rozencwajg said taken directly from the recording of the court mention supplied by the court.

“Before we commence. At the outset I feel it is necessary to state that the article on the front page of The Australian last Tuesday reporting on the mention held on the 2nd September was factually incorrect in several significant respects. The court certainly made no determination as declared in the blaring headline, in fact I made no determination whatsoever. I have requested the Court Strategic Communications Advisor to take this issue up with the editor of The Australian newspaper and if necessary the Australian Press Council.”

In fact in the recording of the hearing that lasts just 15 minutes, the Australian article is mentioned many times, with the Magistrate repeatedly pointing out that there were “many factual errors” that were “throughout the article” and were “not limited to the headline”.

Pia Ackerman who was in the court at the time, when I approached her for comment via phone claimed that the magistrates issue was only with the headline. Listening to the recording Ackerman is either suffering from selective deafness or is telling an outright lie, neither of which are approptiate when dealing with a matter before the courts.

Pia Akerman - Like father like daughter?

Pia Akerman – Like father like daughter?

I have sent an email to the Courts Strategic Communications Advisor requesting details on The Australians editors response and also details of the Australian Press Councils response if it was reported to them. I will let readers know when a response is received.

I note that unlike myself and Independent Australia, Ean Higgins, Pia Ackeman and The Australian newspaper have yet to correct the record on any of their “factual errors” or given public apologies to Craig Thomson for any harm or upset their distortion of facts may have caused.

I also note that since this has occurred neither Higgins nor Ackerman appear to have been writing on the Thomson case for The Australian, instead it has been picked up by Brad Norrington and Rachel Baxendale whose recent article titled “Craig Thomson Fraud Case In Doubt” seems to have taken a far more factual approach to the matter than those previously covering the case, for this I congratulate The Australian.

Readers can make their own judgements as to why this may have occurred.

Another interesting point that has come from the court mention recording is that the main stream media has failed to report on the way the prosecution has handled the defenses decision not to dispute facts.

When entering a list of the undisputed facts into evidence by the prosecution the Magistrate was not given a copy of the accompanying letter that went with it by the prosecution team. Instead the defense had to hand over a copy of a draft version that they been supplied to the magistrate.

As Greg James QC pointed out to Magistrate Rozencwajg, the prosecutions accompanying letter referred to what were a notice of “facts that are not disputed” as ” admissions of guilt”. This letter was to be added onto the records by the court in what would appear to be an attempt to sneak the misleading accompanying letter past the Magistrate by the prosecution.

“Facts that are not disputed” are facts that are irrelevant in a legal sense. An example in this case would be the watching of an in-house movie worth $15 in a hotel whilst away on business. The two charges relating to the watching of that movie that probably cost less than breakfast are not relevant if Thomson in fact had authority to use the credit card that paid the bill for the movie.

Any charge then relating to the use of that card would then be irrelevant and dropped if Thomson is found to have authority to use the card that bore his name.

It is not in any way, shape or form a “notice of admission” for whatever the prosecution seeks to allege he used the card to purchase.

What was interesting around the coverage of events at the time was the number of mainstream outlets that did use the intentionally misleading and prejudicial line that these were admissions.

It would appear almost as if the prosecution were feeding media outlets the line thinking that their letter was going to be sneaked past the Magistrate.

But surely that couldn’t happen in such a high-profile case?

Craig Thomson and wife Zoe - hoping for a fair hearing and reasonable reporting.

Craig Thomson and wife Zoe – hoping for a fair trial and reasonable reporting.

As I mentioned earlier the Thomson criminal matter is due back in Court today for a trial that has been set down for a week.

I note that as yet the 50 new charges that were to be thrown at Thomson for refusing to take the deal offered to him by the prosecution last week that was only reported here and by the new and improved coverage team at The Australian have yet to surface.

I wonder if these charges will be thrown at Thomson today. Along with a list of the new charges passed onto the awaiting and salivating media by the prosecution not unlike a master feeding a starving dog. After all they will make great headlines and sound bites to kick start the  weeks proceedings.

Trial by media?

The circus continues.

Like Wixxyleaks on Facebook here

Like Wixxyleaks on Facebook here

  1. M. R. says:

    Oh, that BLOODY Murdoch press, with its BLOODY right-wing reporters (I refuse to call them ‘journalists’)! Yer a game bastard, Wixxy – no doubt about it!

  2. do not expect truth and unbiased reporting from the un Australian or muckdocacy and shockjock jocks who are abbotts stooges .

  3. Hi Peter,

    Thanks always sticking to the truth of the matter and for having the courage to apologise for a wrong statement.

    You do point out that the Australian and their reporters haven’t had the same courage (my words).

    It is typical of the right wing press that they seem incapable of reporting just the facts without adding a lot of spin and conjecture to their false stories.

    I wonder where they learned their Journalism? Probably a the Liberal school for Untruth, where black is white and grey is blue and the major rule is never never criticise the conservative side of Politics.

    Such lies are on display presently with Tony Abbott and his Gonski backflip, which he declares was really a triple pike with a twist and a brain fart at the end.

    This morning I am going for a glass of cyanide at the shopping centre (which is really a converted warehouse) by walking backwards on my hands.

    Actually I am going to drive there and have a cup of coffee with a friend, but it wouldn’t do to tell you that. It’s too normal.


  4. Hi Wixxy,

    Like you, I have been extremely disappointed with the mainstream media’s coverage of this matter – which has not been neither fair nor balanced reporting, as far as I could see,

    As a result,I am in Melbourne today. After my partner (an experienced litigation lawyer) and I have had some breakfast, we’ll be taking a walk up to Melbourne Magistrates’ Court, and we’ll be reporting on what actually happens.

  5. Fed up says:

    Well, today, at last we have both Thomson and Slipper in court. ABC reported Slipper this morning in a negative manner. Not even bothering about Thomson it seems.

    The media appears to busy, assisting Abbott, in convincing us, the public that has comprehension problems, that when it comes to the Coalition, lies are not lies.

    Keep up the good work.

  6. jayanar says:

    The scribblers who write for The Strine are not even reporters.

    They are hacks. If they aren’t when they start there then Rupert turns them that way.

    We must use the correct terminology. 😉

  7. jayanar says:

    The scribblers who write for The Strine are not even reporters.

    They are hacks.

    If they were not when they started they are by the time Rupert finishes with them.

    Let’s get the terminology right. 😉

  8. ABC4LNP says:

    Pia and Piers, are you serious ? the vanity is amazing from the toadie

  9. helenmarg says:

    Thank you again Peter.Also why havent the 3 judges given a ruling on Ashbys appeal. Peter slipper and Craig Thomsons lives have been been ruined by this .The government got away with it.

  10. billie11 says:

    I was in Thomson’s hearing today The prosecution asked to start with opening statement and a witness tomorrow. The defense asked who was the witness and what charges the witness pertained to.
    The defence then spent the next 2 hours asking why 223 charges that had occurred in NSW were being tried in a Victorian court. The charges are withdrawl of cash for personal needs, flight from Sydney to Adelaide for then wife and sex with a prostitute

    Thomson’s case adjourned at noon and will recommence 10am Tuesday, no hearing on Friday.

  11. joy cooper says:

    Excellent work Wixxy. It is a disgrace how our justice system can be purloined purely for political purposes & games.

    Thanks billie11 for also keeping us in the loop.

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