Australian Federal Police

Malcolm Turnbull’s close links to the judge in the Tim Worner Channel 7 sex, drug and fraud scandal

Malcolm Turnbull is lifelong friends with Justice John Sackar who is hearing the Seven West Media sex, drug and fraud scandal involved their CEO Tim Worner and Amber Harrison. Turnbull is also best friends with Sevens head lawyer Bruce McWilliam which raises some serious questions that need answering.

Yep, that’s right, the same Justice John Sackar who conveniently had a bad case of amnesia and forget for a month or more that he also knew Malcolm Turnbull’s best mate Bruce McWilliam. Bruce is SWM’s Commercial Director and General Counsel and a key witness in the matter against Amber Harrison.

What’s interesting is that if you wind back the clock to the mid 1980’s you will find that all three would have known each other extremely well and to suggest otherwise, as Justice John Sackar has tried to do to cover his hide, is just not believable.

In this article, we look at the close relationship Prime Minister Turnbull has with Bruce McWilliam and John Sackar and whether or not Malcolm Turnbull has any knowledge of or involvement in the Tim Worner / Amber Harrison court case. You might say that is a ridiculous thing to ask but I’ll make two points to start with. Firstly, in 2014 Malcolm Turnbull stuck his nose into an Australian Federal Police raid on Channel Seven at the request of Bruce McWilliam as the below Tweet from Malcolm Turnbull shows. And secondly, the War of Law strategy used by Bruce McWilliam and Seven West Media has it origin in the 1980’s when Turnbull and McWilliam used a frivolous defamation case to try to trash the credibility of the Costigan Royal Commission to benefit tax cheat Kerry Packer.

War of Law strategy – Malcolm Turnbull, Kerry Packer and the Costigan Royal Commission

There’s evidence to suggest that the “War of Law” strategy being used by Kerry Stokes’ Seven West Media to silence critics and whistleblowers was first developed in 1984 by Malcolm Turnbull and his best mate Bruce McWilliam.

I wrote an article in June 2016 titled:Malcolm Turnbull: The frivolous litigant who “poisoned the fountain of justicesaid Justice Huntwhich starts off:

In 1984 Justice Hunt in the NSW Supreme Court said Malcolm Turnbull had “managed effectively to poison the fountain of justice” in relation to defamatory statements Mr Turnbull had made in the media while representing Kerry Packer during the Costigan Royal Commission. Some say it probably also helped end Turnbull’s career in law.

Malcolm Turnbull likes to portray that he was a young super barrister who won a huge case (Spycatcher) and then moved on to business with his career but the reality seems to be different and it is worth reviewing his short legal career.


The real story is that in 1984 Malcolm Turnbull and his corrupt mate Bruce McWilliam instituted frivolous and vexatious defamation proceedings on behalf of Kerry Packer against Douglas Meagher who was counsel assisting the Royal Commission. They used the media and lied, deceived, ducked and weaved and trashed the reputation of Mr Meagher to help legendary tax cheat Packer dodge prosecution during the Costigan Royal Commission.

The proceedings were so frivolous and vexatious they only lasted a couple of days and it backfired badly as the Judge hearing the case unloaded with both barrels mostly directed at Malcolm Turnbull.

It’s worth noting that Malcolm Turnbull has a glass jaw when it comes to criticism of himself. He is well-known to threaten journalists with defamation proceedings and he sued Fairfax Media in 1981 which I wrote about in an article last year. Turnbull’s partner in crime Bruce McWilliam also gets a fair mention in the article. (Click here to read the article)

Turnbull worked for Packer at Australian Consolidated Press Holdings Group from 1983 to 1985. McWilliam also worked with Turnbull when they defended Packer during the Royal Commission.

Not long after in 1986 they set up their own law firm Turnbull McWilliam which Turnbull left in 1987 and established an investment banking firm, Whitlam Turnbull & Co Ltd. (Click here to read the article)

Bruce McWilliam (Second from right) at Malcolm Turnbull’s 60th birthday party

The bullying legal strategy Turnbull and McWilliam used in the 1980’s defending Kerry Packer is almost identical to the strategy McWilliam and Seven have used against Amber Harrison, myself and many others.

With friends like Bruce McWilliam you don’t need enemies

Malcolm Turnbull and Bruce McWilliam are such good friends that when the ABC’s Australian Story did an episode on Turnbull in 2015 they interviewed McWilliam. This is part of what McWilliam said:

BRUCE MCWILLIAM, FRIEND: Malcolm has always been very forthright. He’s always made me laugh because I’ve, I have seen him say strong things to people. And then when he meets them in the street on another occasion and they walk past him with their noses up in the air, Malcolm says – said to me, “Well, I wonder what’s, whatever has gotten into them?”

INTERVIEWER: Has Malcolm been successful in making a considerable number of enemies?

BRUCE MCWILLIAM, FRIEND: Yeah. Probably. (Click here to read more)

Malcolm Turnbull’s links to Justice John Sackar

Below is an extract from the book “Born to Rule” The unauthorised biography of Malcolm Turnbull (2015) which shows the relationship between Turnbull and Sackar.

But firstly, a quick review from the SMH:

The Prime Minister of Australia is a snitch. For years, when journalists wrote things about him he did not like, he routinely called and abused them. He would say he remonstrated with them over their lack of accuracy. That’s fine. But for years Malcolm Turnbull has made a habit of going over the heads of journalists and calling their editors to complain. As this new biography makes clear, he is also widely regarded as a leaker, is widely known as a browbeater, and although he is willing to goad and taunt, he has often not reacted with equanimity when the taunting is returned. (Click here to read more)

Born to Rule” extract

With the prestigious degree from Oxford under his belt when he returned to Australia, Turnbull quickly found work in the law. His first job was as a solicitor, working under Aleco Vrisakis at Blake Dawson Waldron, but Turnbull quickly decided that being a junior solicitor at a big firm was not for him, and went to the bar, encouraged by his father-in-law. Bruce Turnbull’s connections also helped: Bruce was good friends with John Sackar, then an up-and-coming junior barrister. The two men were part of a close-knit running group that often jogged together in Centennial Park, along with Bruce Gyngell, barrister Henric Nicholas, and prestige estate agent Bill Bridges. Sackar recommended Malcolm for a room in his chambers on the sixth floor of the Selborne Wentworth building on Phillip Street, one of the best in Sydney. Impressions on the sixth floor were mixed. Sackar, now a Supreme Court judge, says Turnbull was the first barrister any of them had met who did all his own typing, no secretaries or palaver — ‘We all thought it was pretty extraordinary.’

On the other hand, according to the first substantial profile of the young lawyer, in 1984, he put a number of his fellow barristers off-side, and the general feeling was that Turnbull was unsettled at the bar, distracted, with broader horizons. Turnbull admitted: ‘The media business has always been my real love; I’m temperamentally more a journalist than a lawyer.’ The piece recorded that Turnbull’s mother, Coral Lansbury, had placed bets with fellow professor Leonie Kramer on whose son would be the first to make prime minister.

(From Google Books)

Like any barrister starting out, Turnbull took whatever work he could get. With his notoriety as a journalist and his connections with Packer, and under the guiding hand of Tom Hughes, Turnbull was kept busy. He read under Sackar and Peter Hely, the then leading junior barrister in Sydney, and both did what they could to funnel work through from an extensive list of media clients. But Turnbull took a pretty jaundiced view of many of his colleagues and soon got bored and fidgety. Keeping a weather eye on the NSW Labor government’s looming reforms to the legal profession, which would open the bar to more competition from solicitors, Turnbull was preoccupied with his next move. In the end, Turnbull spent only about a year at the bar as a fully fledged practitioner, leading some commentators to question his oft-touted credentials as a ‘brilliant barrister’. (Click here to read more)

Given Turnbull’s close relationship with John Sackar in the 1980’s, which is the same time Turnbull was working very closely with Bruce McWilliam, it is not believable that Sackar and McWilliam only know each other in passing.

Justice John Sackar, Amber Harrison and Bruce McWilliam

Justice Sackar had 2 directions hearings in the Seven West Media / Amber Harrison matter and then on Thursday the 6th of April 2016 Justice Sackar heard argument on whether or not the matter should be transferred to Melbourne which Seven were against. But apparently, it was only on the morning of the hearing that Sackar realised he had a personal interest in the matter.

The Australian reported:

It’s amazing. Justice Sackar has known Malcolm Turnbull and Bruce McWilliam for over 30 years and even did research with McWilliams wife. If Justice John Sackar had any self-respect he would stand down from hearing the matter. Every decision so far has gone the way of Seven West Media which is no surprise given Sackar’s friendships.

As expected Sackar denied the application to move the matter to Melbourne and has set down the case for final hearing in July in Sydney.

Ben Fordham’s Tweets to Malcolm Turnbull regarding the Federal Police raid on Channel Seven over payments to Schapelle Corby

In 2014, the Australian Federal Police raided Channel Seven because they believed Channel Seven had paid convicted drug smuggler Schapelle Corby for an interview. In Australia, it is illegal for convicted criminals to profit from their crimes so they cannot do paid interviews. At the time Channel Seven personalities such as David Koch and Samantha Armytage were telling viewers on TV that Channel Seven had paid Corby $2 million.

When the police raided Seven they denied having paid Corby and Bruce McWilliam jumped straight on the phone to his mate Malcolm Turnbull who was then the Minister for Communications. Rumour quickly spread of Bruce McWilliam bragging how he had Malcolm Turnbull fixing the problem for him and 2gb radio announcer asked Turnbull the below questions on Twitter:

Below is the main part again. Bruce McWilliam rings Turnbull complaining about the police raid on Channel Seven and Turnbull jumps straight on the phone to the Attorney-General George Brandis and the Minister for Justice Michael Keenan MP who has oversight for the Australian Federal Police.

So what did Turnbull say to McWilliam on the phone?

Amber Harrison’s Tweets below from January / February 2017 which led to Seven’s legal action to silence her and which reveal that there is a lot more to the story about the Channel Seven police raids over the payment of money to Schapelle Corby.

Bruce McWilliam emails the SWM directors saying: “It isn’t an offence to pay money” which says he knows it is an offence for criminals to accept money. Did Turnbull tell McWilliam that?

I wonder if the Seven directors could be charged with aiding and abetting a crime and it also seems to be admission that they paid Schapelle Corby which I understand they denied in the Federal Court in 2014.

Some questions for Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull

A few questions that the Canberra Press Gallery should be asking PM Turnbull are:

  1. Given that Bruce McWilliam phoned you during the 2014 Federal Police raid on Channel Seven asking for help has McWilliam called you and discussed the Tim Worner / Amber Harrison scandal?
  2. Have you discussed the Tim Worner / Amber Harrison scandal with your mate Justice John Sackar?
  3. Do you believe the war of law strategy that your best friend Bruce McWilliam uses regularly at Seven West Media against staff and others is acceptable conduct?
  4. Will your government introduce legislation to stop companies using legal bullying?

I think it is certain that Malcolm Turnbull would have discussed the Channel 7 / Tim Worner / Amber Harrison scandal with Bruce McWilliam given their friendship and especially given the proposed changes to media laws. Prime Minister Turnbull should answer the above questions and issue a media statement on the issue.

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7 replies »

  1. Turnbull has just about run out of placers to berry his skeletons. he has climbed the ladder to great heights and used people to achieve his ambitions. How ever he is now out of his own reach and can’t let his grip on the rung go incase he falls. He will fall as they all do, and it will not be a prity sight. All those who he condemned on his mediocre rise to fame will be waiting for his carcass to pass them on his way down. He has more enemies then friends. His friends are only blow-flies and they will leave at the first sign of trouble. But his enemies are ridged in their determination to rid them selves of him.

  2. That’s the problem with people like you RonaldR, why wait for someone to die… spill the beans now or shut up…. No wonder our politicians are corrupt, with electors like you … we don’t have a change.

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