find the latest legal job
Freelance Lawyers
Category: Banking and Finance Law | Location: All Perth WA
· Freelance opportunities through Vario from Pinsent Masons
View details
Freelance Lawyers
Category: Other | Location: All Adelaide SA
· • Qualified lawyer with a strong academic background
View details
Freelance Lawyers
Category: Other | Location: All Melbourne VIC
· • Qualified lawyer with a strong academic background
View details
Insurance Lawyer (1 PAE)
Category: Insurance and Superannuation Law | Location: Brisbane CBD & Inner Suburbs Brisbane QLD
· Great Career Opportunity ·
View details
Insurance and Health Lawyer (1-4 PAE)
Category: Insurance and Superannuation Law | Location: Melbourne CBD & Inner Suburbs Melbourne VIC
· New position to support Growth ·
View details
Media interviews threaten fair trial

Media interviews threaten fair trial

A Melbourne silk has claimed media interviews publicising allegations of sexual assault against Rolf Harris could prejudice any potential criminal trial involving the well-known entertainer.

David Brustman SC told Lawyers Weekly that a TV interview with 42-year-old Wollongong woman Tonya Lee, who has accused Harris (pictured) of sexually assaulting her in a London pub when she was 14, has most likely already planted pre-judgements in the minds of potential jurors.

The interview was broadcast on Channel Nine’s A Current Affair program and featured in Woman’s Day magazine. Brustman claimed the high level of interest in the story and widespread online reporting will make it extremely difficult to conduct a fair trial, regardless of whether proceedings take place in the UK or Australia.

“The digital age certainly makes it profoundly easier for people to investigate anything,” he said.

Brustman admitted that sub-judice limitations on media reporting have been effective in cases where the accused is not a public figure, and said the restrictions should apply prior to an arrest or charges being laid.

Harris has not been charged with a crime and has strongly denied any wrongdoing.

But, Brustman added, it’s difficult to contain a scandal, particularly when it relates to a personality as well-known as Harris.

“Restrictions notwithstanding, this information comes out,” he said. “It’s only a matter of time before the identity of a well-known personality is leaked.”

Speaking with Lawyers Weekly last month, Bond University associate professor Jane Johnston said that the legal system is incapable of silencing internet chatter before potential damage to a fair trial has been done. The most realistic approach to preserving the integrity of the court process is juror education and pre-trial training, she said.

The Juries and Social Media Report released in April, which Johnston co-authored, was commissioned for the Standing Council on Law and Justice following concerns that social media users could prejudice the trial against the man accused of the rape and murder of Jill Meagher.

“Courts are having trouble keeping up with the mainstream media and significant trouble keeping up with social media; free speech is the hands-down winner in terms of the balance between a fair trial and free speech,” said Johnston.

Like this story? Read more:

QLS condemns actions of disgraced lawyer as ‘stain on the profession’

NSW proposes big justice reforms to target risk of reoffending

The legal budget breakdown 2017

Media interviews threaten fair trial
lawyersweekly logo
Promoted content
Recommended by Spike Native Network
more from lawyers weekly
Please, Continue (Hamlet), Melbourne Festival
Oct 16 2017
Hamlet suffers slings and arrows of top Victorian barristers
Victorian judges and barristers have performed the unique play Please, Continue (Hamlet) at the Melb...
Julian Assange
Oct 13 2017
When justice fails, according to Assange
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has dismissed the capacity of judicial systems to deal with complex...
Aussie anti-terrorism laws, detention of 10-year-olds
Oct 13 2017
Treatment of kids under Aussie anti-terrorism laws an over-reach: ABA
The Australian Bar Association has urged the government to reconsider proposed reforms to Australian...
APPOINTMENTS
Allens managing partner Richard Spurio, image courtesy Allens' website
Jun 21 2017
Promo season at Allens
A group of lawyers at Allens have received promotions across its PNG and Australian offices. ...
May 11 2017
Partner exits for in-house role
A Victorian lawyer has left the partnership of a national firm to start a new gig with state governm...
Esteban Gomez
May 11 2017
National firm recruits ‘major asset’
A national law firm has announced it has appointed a new corporate partner who brings over 15 years'...
opinion
Nicole Rich
May 16 2017
Access to justice for young transgender Australians
Reform is looming for the process that young transgender Australians and their families must current...
Geoff Roberson
May 11 2017
The lighter side of the law: when law and comedy collide
On the face of it, there doesn’t seem to be much that is amusing about the law, writes Geoff Rober...
Help
May 10 2017
Advocate’s immunity – without fear or without favour but not both
On 29 March 2017, the High Court handed down its decision in David Kendirjian v Eugene Lepore & ...