I was back in court on Tuesday (15/074/04) for the frivolous and vexatious contempt proceedings instituted against me by media mogul Kerry Stokes and his girlfriend and lawyer Justine Munsie. I will just touch on the hearing a bit as the judgement is reserved and I will write a full post when the judge hands the decision down. I also think it is worth focusing in the precedent Coleman v Power which gives a lot of protection to the average person from a political freedom of speech viewpoint.
The hearing in brief
Kerry Stokes spared no expense and had two barristers working for him, junior barrister Sandy Dawson who sat at the bar table and the other was Acting Justice William Henric Nicholas QC who sat on the bench. Both worked their hardest to represent Kerry Stokes.
It is quite scandalous that Stokes has even instituted the proceedings against me in the first place and shows how corrupt the Supreme Court of NSW is.
Some of the things Justice Nicholas did were:
1. Even though I had written to Kerry Stokes and Justine Munsie (the applicants) a number of times calling them as witnesses they did not show up and Justice Nicholas in effect said that was OK. I asked him to write in his judgement why it was OK for Stokes and Munsie to refuse to give evidence and he said he would not.
Stokes’s barrister then wanted me to give evidence from the witness-box. The judge refused his request. I said I wanted to and the judge said OK. I then said that of course we’ll have to adjourn so Stokes and Munsie can come to court and we can all give evidence the same day. The judge refused and Sandy Dawson sat there like a stunned mullet.
The obvious reason why Stokes refused to give evidence is that the last time he did in 2007 the judge said that Stokes gave “deliberately false” evidence while under oath. Both Stokes and Munsie are suing me for calling them perjurers yet when given the opportunity to prove me wrong by giving evidence from the witness-box under oath both refused to do so.
2. Over 90% of two affidavits that I filed where struck out on the instructions of Stokes’s barrister Sandy Dawson. It was Dawson’s instructions because the judge clearly did not have enough time to read the affidavits in full so how could he make a true judgement.
3. Justice Nicholas threatened to have me removed from the court as I was telling him how blatantly biased he was. This was a clear threat by him for me to shut up or he would deny me natural justice and kick me out of court so I could not defend myself. I asked him to stand down from hearing the matter as this was clear bullying and bias. I pointed out that he had committed a crime as bullying is a criminal offence. He didn’t like what I said but had no comeback because I was right. (I got that tip from a regular reader. If a judge is trying to intimidate you let them know they are committing the crime of bullying and you will not tolerate it. In Victoria it is up to 10 years jail for bullying and it is also a crime in NSW which I told Nicholas)
4. The only affidavit that Stokes had was one from Richard Keegan who is one of his lawyers. I was not allowed to ask Keegan some basic questions such as what motivated Stokes to institute the proceedings against me and what is the benefit Stokes is hoping to gain from the proceedings. The biggest question is why Stokes decided to have the illegal private hearing with Justice Harrison in April in the first place. (Click here to read the transcript for Kerry Stokes’s private hearing on the 14th of April with Justice Harrison when I was not there)
There were plenty of other things which Harrison did which was in Stokes favour but that will do. To be fair and balanced Justice Nicholas did improve near the end and was a bit more impartial. I think this was due to the fact that the gravity hit home of how corrupt his judgement will need to be if he finds in Kerry Stokes favour.
Nicholas QC was previously a judge but is now on contract for want of a better description and hence his title “Acting” justice. (Click here to read more of his background)
And from the University of Sydney Law School: “The Honourable William Henric Nicholas QC leading defamation barrister (father of our recent graduate Edward) who graduated from the Law School here in 1964 was sworn in on February 4, 2003 as a judge of the Supreme Court of New South Wales in the Equities Division.” (Click here to read more)
Since Stokes instituted proceedings against me I have become aware that most of what I write on this site is protected by the legal defence of qualified privilege. Qualified privilege protects not only me but a lot of bloggers and other people using social media. I have also been made aware of the 2004 High Court precedent Coleman v Power. These are not overly complex and are important to know for people using the internet for political communication. They are good to know even for something as simple as a Twitter account so you can express you political viewpoint.
Put very simply, I breached a suppression order that restricted my freedom of political communication. The suppression order was invalid on numerous grounds one of those being that it infringed in an unacceptable way on my political communication rights as implied in the Australian Constitution. (Click here to read the judgement of Justice Harrison on the 24th of April which outlines the background)
The freedom of political communication
“From the late 1970’s, decisions of the High Court and English courts have reflected the importance of freedom of communication generally and, more specifically, on political matters. However, it was not until 1992 that a majority of the High Court accepted that freedom of political communication is implied in the Australian Constitution. Even then, each judgment of the majority described the freedom differently and to this day differences remain. Nevertheless, some elements are agreed upon. First, the freedom finds its source in the system of governance established by the Constitution, although the precise description of that system and the requirements for its operation are not settled; neither is the scope of the freedom (this is considered below). Secondly, the freedom of political communication is freedom from legislative and executive restraint, not a positive right capable of enforcement; nor is it an absolute freedom. The freedom affects Australian legislation by rendering it invalid when it infringes the freedom in an unacceptable way.” (Click here to read more)
Apparently no judges in the Supreme Court of New South Wales have heard of qualified privilege or knew of the Coleman v Power precedent even though it is promoted on the Judicial Commission of NSW website. At least none that I have come across yet such as Harrison, Hall and Adams with the exception of Justice Nicholas but how well he understands them is still to be determined.
The key point with Justice Nicholas is he is a leading defamation barrister and would have a very good understanding of Coleman v Power which is identical to my situation. If Justice Nicholas follows the precedents as he should then that alone will see the contempt proceedings dismissed.
Judges always try to protect the other judges when they have been involved in corrupt conduct but it is becoming harder for them. A dodgy judgement will be a massive call by Nicholas because it will not only impact on me but all Australians as it will undermine everyone’s right to political free speech. As we all know the cover-up is always a lot bigger than the original crime or corruption so if Nicholas is smart he will not get involved in trying to cover-up the judicial favours that Kerry Stokes has been getting. But most corrupt judges aren’t smart and think they are above the law.
If Justice Nicholas does hand down a dodgy judgement he is not helping anyone and will only be digging a massive hole for himself which will destroy his own reputation as well as Chief Justice Tom Bathurst’s reputation given he is well aware of the happenings in my matters. Nicholas gave an estimated time of less than 2 months before he hands down his judgement so we will wait and see.
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