Fairfax Media’s Sydney Morning Herald editor Lisa Davies has called for my jailing because I was found guilty in March of contempt of court for breaching a dodgy suppression order. It is not just an attack on me as Ms Davies has in effect suggested jail for all new media journalists, bloggers and social media users who don’t do what they’re told.
It’s absolutely scandalous for one journalist to call for the jailing of another journalist for doing nothing more than reporting the news and then standing their ground when a court issues a dodgy suppression order to conceal the truth. Some people might say we should just ignore Davies’ article but she is the editor and it needs to be exposed for what it is otherwise it might get traction with other failing journalists who want to attack new media journalists.
What makes the call for my jailing even more of a scandal is that the dodgy suppression order I breached is currently under review by Justice Lucy McCallum to determine if it is justified which I have no doubt it wasn’t. In fact it has been under review for a number of months now which is no surprise given Justice Lucy McCallum is good friends with Seven’s lawyer Justine Munsie and they aren’t keen on having the suppression order lifted for obvious reasons as outlined below.
Firstly, let’s look at the article that Lisa Davies published on the 22nd May 2017 and then have a look at the facts. It starts off:
“Limitations of law laid bare in Amber Harrison feud with Seven“
There are times when the law provides a tidy resolution to a messy human drama. More often than not, it is as imperfect as the human behaviour it seeks to govern.
The increasingly bitter court battle between Seven West Media and Amber Harrison, a former executive assistant at the company, will produce no winners although one side will emerge the legal victor.
It has also highlighted the difficulties faced by the courts in policing bloggers and other self-publishers who flout suppression orders by publishing confidential information in high-profile cases.
And later Lisa Davies says: Seven, customarily in the business of promoting free speech, responded by seeking an extraordinarily wide injunction permanently restraining her from speaking publicly about the company or Mr Worner.
And at the end Lisa Davies says: The legal stoush between Ms Harrison and Seven has also underscored a wider problem faced by the courts in dealing with a relatively new problem.
Online self-publishers including bloggers can now report on current affairs, including court cases, but may not respect or even be aware of suppression orders imposed during hearings and observed by traditional media outlets.
At least two blog-style websites have published information about allegations in the Harrison case in breach of court suppression orders.
On March 15 Supreme Court judge Ian Harrison found a rogue blogger guilty of contempt for disobeying a suppression order by publishing confidential allegations in the case.
The blogger is due to be sentenced later this year. In such cases a financial penalty may have no effect if the publisher has limited financial means.
A prison sentence may be the only punishment with any real deterrent value, but the courts will not impose such a sanction lightly. (Click here to read the full article)
Lisa Davies would probably say she did not call for my jailing, all she did was recommend it as a good option to deter bloggers etc. What she would say is actually unknown as she refused to answer the questions I emailed her as per below.
On the 18th of December 2016, I wrote an article about Amber Harrison emailing a press release about the abuse of the legal system that Seven West Media conducted over a number of years regarding an agreement she had with the company. It detailed a sexual relationship with the CEO Tim Worner, drug use, fraud and abuse of shareholders’ funds.
I also wrote in the article: “There are reports that Tim Worner has had sexual relationships with at least 4 other staff members at Seven which include an actress and on-air-host. I am reliably told the actress is Rebecca Gibney and the on-air-host is Samantha Armytage.“ (Click here to read more)
Samantha Armytage and Rebecca Gibney instituted defamation proceedings against me which is being paid for by Seven West Media and driven by Kerry Stokes. They also managed to get a dodgy suppression order so they could not be named by the media.
I have continually breached the suppression order because it was blatantly corruptly issued and there is no legal justification for it. The courts are issuing suppression orders like candy and they are corrupt orders. In Victoria, they are currently reviewing suppression orders because they have had the same problem with judges issuing dodgy suppression orders and a review also needs to happen in NSW if not all of Australia.
Contempt proceedings were instituted against me by Armytage and Gibney which again was paid for by Seven West Media and run by Kerry Stokes and I was found guilty. I have not been sentenced yet because I am still waiting on a decision from Justice Lucy McCallum regarding whether the suppression orders should have been issued. Justice Ian Harrison said in his judgment:
Justice Harrison’s judgment – 15th March 2017 (Click here to read the full judgment)
“The defendant is the sole owner and publisher of the website located at http://www.kangaroocourtofaustralia.com (the Website)”
“I take Mr Dowling’s several references in his latest submissions to orders that might be made by McCallum J later this week to refer to the prospect that he may be able to satisfy her Honour that the original suppression orders should never have been made. Mr Dowling has referred in this context to s 13 of the Court Suppression and Non-Publication Orders Act. In the event that the orders that Mr Dowling is said to have breached were later held to be invalid, or were set aside for some reason, I accept that that fact could be a matter potentially relevant to assessment of the proper penalty for contempt.“
So I was found guilty of contempt for breaching a suppression order that the court is still to decide if it was a valid suppression order in the first place.
Interestingly both Samantha Armytage and Rebecca Gibney refused to file affidavits denying having a sexual relationship with Seven West Media CEO Tim Worner even though it would have helped their case to keep the suppression orders. Justice Lucy McCallum raised it at the hearing and asked their barrister why none of the applicants had filed affidavits to support their case. It was basically admission it was true and their defamation case against me was frivolous and vexatious as well as the contempt proceedings.
Back to Lisa Davies article and her hypocrisy and deception
Some of the holes in Lisa Davies article I’ve listed below:
- Journalists around the world regularly go to jail because they refuse to reveal their sources. Based on Ms Davies article one has to assume she agrees those journalists should go to jail.
- Lawyers for Cassandra Sainsbury tried to get suppression orders against Channel Seven but failed and Fairfax Media ran stories on it. So Fairfax and Lisa Davies would have to know the suppression orders not to name Armitage and Gibney, in a what is a very trivial matter in comparison, are a joke.
- Without a doubt, almost every journalist in the country would think what Lisa Davies has written is disgusting and would have no respect for her. So how can she keep her position as editor of the SMH.
- If I did end up in jail for breaching the suppression orders Fairfax Media and Lisa Davies should write an article and take some ownership of it. I wonder how social media would react to that. Not very kindly I would suspect.
- It wasn’t that long ago Australian journalist Peter Greste was stuck in a jail in Egypt and people around the world protested for his freedom. Based on her article Davies obviously believes Greste should have been jailed and maybe she thinks he should still be in jail for breaking Egyptian laws? As everyone in the world knows Greste’s jailing was very political because of the so-called laws he breached but that obviously would not have been good enough for Lisa Davies.
- Lisa Davies talks about Seven’s hypocrisy of the suppression order against Amber Harrison but then self-sensors and doesn’t name me.
- Lisa Davies says I published confidential information. What a joke. I named two staff members who are named in a complaint by Amber Harrison to the Australian Human Rights Commission which is hardly confidential.
From: SHANE DOWLING
Sent: Monday, 22 May 2017 10:17 PM
Subject: Media questions – Your call to jail journalist Shane Dowling
Dear Ms Davies
You have called for my jailing in an article published on Monday the 22nd of May titled “Limitations of law laid bare in Amber Harrison feud with Seven” and I have some questions for an article I am writing.
- Can you please explain why you as a journalist feel you have the right calling for the jailing of another journalist for doing nothing more than reporting the news?
- You say in the article “On March 15 Supreme Court judge Ian Harrison found a rogue blogger guilty of contempt for disobeying a suppression order by publishing confidential allegations in the case. The blogger is due to be sentenced later this year.” Are you aware that the reason we are waiting for sentencing is that we are waiting for Justice Lucy McCallum to decide if the suppression orders should have been issued in the first place?
- You say in the article: “In such cases a financial penalty may have no effect if the publisher has limited financial means. A prison sentence may be the only punishment with any real deterrent value, but the courts will not impose such a sanction lightly.” Why have you called for me to be jailed when I am sure you would know it is scandalous that the court has ordered the suppression of the names of 2 women who work for Seven but Seven and other media companies name women every day of the week in similar situations?
- Do you think your readers would be disturbed that someone could be found guilty of breaching suppression orders that should not have been issued in the first place?
- Can you explain why you refused to name me or my website in your article given there is no suppression order from stopping you? (That can be verified in Justice Harrison’s judgement where he names me and my website.)
- Why has Fairfax Media decided to self-sensor and how often does Fairfax Media self-sensor?
Can you please respond by 5pm Tuesday the 23rd May 2017.
Lisa Davies did not respond to the above email. I sent a follow-up email to Fairfax Media’s CEO Greg Hywood and Lisa Davies and both of them failed to respond.
I don’t know what Lisa Davies’ issues are or what her agenda is but she is not a fit person to be an editor of a newspaper or a website. Maybe she was motivated by my recent criticism of Fairfax Media management and Fairfax’s Group General Counsel Gail Hambly who earns over a $1 million a year while they are sacking 125 journalists. Or maybe she has applied for a job with Kerry Stokes’ Seven West Media which this website regularly exposes for corrupt conduct.
The mainstream media are contracting at a rapid pace and with efforts like the above from Fairfax Media’s Lisa Davies it’s not hard to tell why. I doubt very much that Lisa Davies would have much credibility left with the other journalists at Fairfax Media.
For me it is disappointing to see what is happening at Fairfax Media with their sacking of another 125 staff as they have a lot of good journalists and I regularly link back to their articles. But Lisa Davies needs to go or at the very least publish an apology, not just to me, but to all new media journalists and social media users.
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Categories: Fairfax Media