Victorian DPP to prosecute 36 media companies and journalists for criminal contempt regarding the George Pell matter

At least 36 media companies and journalists have been charged with criminal contempt for allegedly illegally breaching suppression orders in the George Pell case. It includes News Corp papers, Nine Entertainment and their papers The SMH and The Age, Deborah Knight and Ray Hadley etc.

Make no mistake, most if not all of these people should go to jail and the directors of the media companies they work for should also be jailed. The editors and management knew they were breaching the suppression orders and they were putting other charges Pell was facing at risk, yet they went ahead and did it anyhow. The editors and management also knew that they could be jailed for breaching the suppression orders and so they should be jailed if found guilty.

One exception might be someone like Deborah Knight who is a news reader and from what I can tell she only read the story on TV. If that is the case, then I think her employer Nine should be charged for contempt but not her. But we’ll find out the full story soon as the first directions hearing is on the 15th of April.

I was also threatened but never charged which I assume was because I never deliberately breached the suppression orders and I took reasonable steps to make sure I did not breach them which included contacting the court before I published. (Click here to read more)

The suppression orders were issued last year on the 25th June 2018 and I understand all the old media companies were sent copies. George Pell was convicted of being a paedophile on the 11th of December 2018 and the companies and journalists charged allegedly breached the suppression orders.

The reason the suppression orders were issued is because Pell still had other charges pending in a second separate trial and reporting of his guilty verdict might have meant his lawyers could argue he would not get a fair trial in the second hearing. The other charges were withdrawn, and the suppression orders lifted.

The media companies were not taking a stand against suppression orders they thought were corruptly issued or illegally issued and they were not taking a stand in the public interest. Greed and contempt for the law was the only thing that drove them to put Pell’s second trial at risk.

In relation to News Corp and their papers they have been running a long campaign supporting George Pell on the instructions of Rupert Murdoch and breaching the suppression orders looks like it was another attempt to interfere with the administration of justice.

Below are some of the many headlines for the stories that News Corp has published defending Pell which includes trying to influence the police with this headline “MEMO TO VIC POLICE: DON’T CONVICT PELL”. How are News Corp lawyers now going to be able to say in court News Corp were not trying to influence Pell’s charges by breaching the suppression orders when they were blatantly trying to influence the police?

Below are some of the articles that have led to the criminal contempt charges.

Newspaper headlines including "Censored", "It's the nation's biggest story" and "Why media can't report on a high-profile case".

Newspaper headlines including “Censored”, “It’s the nation’s biggest story” and “Why media can’t report on a high-profile case”.


Karma hits SMH editor Lisa Davies and defamation lawyer Justine Quill like a truck


In 2017 I went to jail for 4 months for breaching suppression orders. In December 2016 I published an article and named a Channel 7 on air personality and a well-known actress who were named by Amber Harrison in a legal document as having had affairs with Seven West Media CEO Tim Worner.

The day after I published the article Seven West Media paid for lawyers to get suppression orders. I refused to take down the article as the suppression orders were as dodgy as they come, and Kerry Stokes and his companies had been getting dodgy suppression orders on a regular basis against me since 2014 so I decided it was time to take a stand.

Stokes had previously stitched me up for contempt in 2014 for breaching a super-injunction and I was fined $2000 but I never paid it as the NSW Department of Justice eventually said that they would not pursue the fine which I assumed was because they also knew it was dodgy.

SMH editor Lisa Davies – Karma

One of the editors who has been charged, SMH editor Lisa Davies, wrote an article in 2017 arguing I should be jailed for breaching suppression orders which I ended up doing 4 months jail for. Karma has caught up with Davies and the article that she wrote could now be used against her in court as it shows she knows that breaching suppression orders could lead to jail, so she has no excuse for breaching the Pell suppression orders.

I had been convicted of contempt in March 2017 for breaching the suppression orders and was waiting to be sentenced. In May 2017 Lisa Davies wrote her article arguing I should be jailed. I thought it was one of the biggest dog acts I had ever seen. I had taken a principled stand against dodgy suppression orders that infringed on media reporting a story and the public’s right to know and all the media would have known the suppression orders were dodgy. And for another journalist to call for my jailing was a disgrace. I was jailed in August 2017 for 4 months and I wonder if Davies article had an influence.

When I talk about suppression orders I am well versed in that area of law and won a Supreme Court and Court of Appeal battle on the issue last year in the Capilano Honey v Shane Dowling matter. (Click here to read more) So, when I say suppression orders are dodgy it’s an educated opinion.

I published an article about Davies story in May 2017 titled “Fairfax Media call for journalist to be jailed for reporting the truth”. (Click here to read)

SMH editor Lisa Davies

Justin Quill – Karma

Justine Quill is a Melbourne defamation lawyer who has reportedly been representing 53 media companies including most if not all of the ones charged since they were sent threatening letters by the Victorian DPP in February 2019. That could possibly change with yesterdays (26/3/18) charges. When I was sentenced to 4 months jail in 2017 for breaching suppression orders Quill did a radio interview which is below and in effect agreed I should have been jailed because I didn’t make a mistake but I “deliberately breached suppression orders”. Well, I would say with the possible exception of one or two, virtually none of the media companies or journalists who have been charged made a mistake, they deliberately breached the suppression orders. So, on Quill’s argument they should be jailed.

If you ignore the factual errors Quill said about me and my case, if any of the media companies or journalists are convicted Quill’s radio interview could potentially be played at any sentencing hearing which would be damaging for his clients.

Lawyer Justin Quill on Perth radio show Mornings with Gareth Parker. (10/08/17)

(Click below to listen)


Both Lisa Davies in her story and Justin Quill in his interview made numerous factual errors and probably deliberately. For example, when I named the 2 Channel Seven stars in my article there were no suppression orders and there was not a court case involving Amber Harrison. Both the suppression orders and Seven v Amber Harrison court case came afterwards. And at my sentencing Justice Harrison didn’t have to tell me numerous times to stop using my mobile as Justin Quill says. He only had to tell me once as I was live Tweeting the sentencing from the bar table. The articles naming the 7 stars are still on my website and no one has ever complained and after 2 1/2 years the court case is going nowhere as 7 and their stars have put the go slow routine on it as it’s a SLAPP lawsuit.

Below are the companies and people who have been charged. It’s worth noting that none of the 8 or so journalists who showed up to court for the whole George Pell trial have been charged.

The 36 respondents:

  • The Herald and Weekly Times Pty Ltd
  • Damon Johnston
  • Charis Chang
  • News Life Media Pty Ltd
  • Queensland Newspapers Pty Ltd
  • Sam Weir
  • The Geelong Advertiser Pty Ltd
  • Andrew Piva
  • Nationwide News Pty Ltd
  • Ben English
  • Lachlan Hastings
  • Advertiser Newspapers Pty Ltd
  • Michael Owen-Brown
  • Fairfax Media Limited
  • The Age Company Pty Ltd
  • Alex Lavelle
  • Ben Woodhead
  • Patrick O’Neil
  • Michael Bachelard
  • Fairfax Media Publications Pty Ltd
  • Lisa Davies
  • Michael Stutchbury
  • Patrick Durkin
  • Danielle Cronin
  • Franziska Rimrod
  • Mamamia.com.au
  • Jessica Chambers
  • Allure Media Pty Ltd
  • Simon Thomsen
  • Macquarie Media Limited
  • Chris Smith
  • Ray Hadley
  • Nine Entertainment Co Pty Ltd
  • Lara Vella
  • Christine Ahern
  • Deborah Knight

Rupert Murdoch and others should also be charged as they are the ones who drove the reporting on George Pell at News Corp. Lots of other media were never sent letters or if they were avoided being charged. So, it is obvious that the media knew the suppression orders were in place and the consequences of what could happen if they breached them. The initial hearing is on the 15th of April in Melbourne at the Supreme Court and it won’t lack media coverage but how biased will the coverage be?

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12 replies »

  1. I don`t agree with your stand on this one, personalities aside, the Victorian Judiciary are noted for their issuing of an inordinate number of suppression orders compared to the other States. The Victorian DPP is the `meat in the sandwich` on this one as the Judge and his friends have got their knickers in a knot simply because they don`t understand the vagaries of social media both local and international and its implications in relation to public interest. You spend a lot of time on a personal level exposing flaws within the Legal system and the imbalance between the combatants on either side the Bench, I would have thought on this occasion you might be on the side of the `Public right to know`.

  2. In the age of the Internet where anybody can source news internationally at any time, such nationally juristicted suppression orders are no longer effective. The Pell guilty verdict from the first trial was also published in the international media in late 2018. These articles were available to the Australian public from international sources via the Internet before the suppression order was lifted.

    Such as this one from the US National Post:

    Despite the orders being breached by Australian individuals and business, the true issue is the Australian justice system has not caught up to the technical reality of mass trans-border communications that they have no legal authority over.

    There are idiots on both sides of this story.

    The bigger problem is that serial sex abuse cases are not being treated like serial murder cases. Rather than run separate cases, all the cases should be run together. Once all the offences are addressed, only then a single conviction is made. Doing it that way would eliminate the need for suppression orders because of concurrent trials.

    The problem in sexual abuse cases is that the serial behaviour of the perpetrator is rarely considered in front of the law.

  3. Its a sad day when criminals are allowed to have suppression orders and the courts are prosecuting the news media this man of the cloth violated young children he is guilty this court suppression is silly young can’t protect the criminal.

    • I agree with you Mit, its a sad day when these filthy pigs violate children and STILL expect to be treated with respect. If it was my choice I would have just have euthanized the filthy vile ‘thing ‘ and stopped wasting tax-payers hard earned money

  4. Beats me how a country, Australia, has a justice system based on Christian beliefs is protecting a Christian preacher who, when under the umbrella of Christianity performed illegal sexual acts on young boys which has been proven by the individual victims.
    Anthropomorphism is not a protective blanket for adults who commit those atrocities.


      Summary of Justice Taylor’s judgment delivered on 2 October 2018.

      The Victorian Supreme Court has convicted Nationwide News, publisher of The Australian, of contempt of court and fined the company $155,000 for what Justice Lesley Taylor said was a “very serious breach” of the sub judice contempt principle.

      Action was taken in May 2018 by the Victorian Director of Public Prosecutions after The Australian on 28 April 2018 published an article that referred to prior convictions of an accused union leader, John Setka, who at the time faced imminent criminal proceedings.

      The DPP had previously, repeatedly warned The Australian that publishing prior convictions would be a clear breach of sub judice contempt principles. Warnings were made in February 2016 (a general warning to all media publications), and in April and May 2016 after The Australian did publish articles referring to the prior convictions.

      Nationwide News pleaded guilty.

      Justice Taylor said while the Court accepted the contempt was “not deliberate”, and that no actual harm flowed from the contempt, the potential for harm was “very high”. Her Honour said The Australian had prominently and expressly linked Mr Setka’s prior convictions with proceedings that, at the time, were ongoing, and it did so despite a history of specific warnings and despite assurances to the DPP that it would take steps to avoid a contempt.

      Her Honour noted that Mr Setka was a figure of notoriety, the readership of the article was not insignificant, and the potential for harm was averted “not by any praiseworthy conduct on the part of the respondent ” but by the DPP’s decision to withdraw charges against Mr Setka.

      Justice Taylor said the contempt apparently arose from “an inexplicable failure to recognise [that] the juxtaposition of prior convictions and an ongoing criminal proceeding” was a breach of the sub judice contempt principle. She said it was “difficult to imagine a more blatant example” of such a breach, adding that by virtue of the general and specific warnings issued to The Australian, it “was on very clear notice not to do precisely what it then did”.

      Her Honour said that when the article was published in April 2018, Nationwide News had clearly not implemented adequate internal procedures or taken sufficiently sound steps to avoid contempt. It has since moved to remedy its internal processes.

      Her Honour referred to several previous convictions of Nationwide News for contempt matters, and she described its entire record in such matters as “relatively good”.

      Justice Taylor said that irrespective of whether actual harm flowed from publication of the article, “the fact of the respondent’s contempt is of itself disruptive to the orderly administration of justice and deserving of this Court’s censure”. She said the circumstances of the breach in this case warranted “more than a modest fine”.

      Nationwide News was convicted of contempt of court and fined $155,000. It has undertaken to pay the DPP’s costs of the action on an indemnity basis, a sum fixed at $45,000.

      Read the Court’s full judgment: http://www.austlii.edu.au/cgi-bin/viewdoc/au/cases/vic/VSC/2018/572.html

  5. Following your posts over the past few years,Shane, you have had to learn so much of the legal systems, that I’m surprised you haven’t enrolled to study law & be admitted to the Bar. You would make a great Lawyer. It’s not too late, Shane.

  6. You breach suppression orders numerous times yet claim you should not have gone to jail. None of these journalists mentioned George Pell yet they are facing jail inspite of the suppression order on the judgement being unenforceable as it was all over the internet on Twitter and beyond. You want them sent to jail for doing far less than what you did.

    • No, they did a lot more than me. They put a trial at risk which potentially denied victims justice and potentially allowed a paedophile to walk free. With their wide reach they helped inflame the breaching of the suppression orders. Lisa Davies also called for my jailing when she would have known the suppression orders I breached were not valid and that I had taken an eithical stand against dodgy suppression orders. Lisa Davies and most of the others took no ethical stand and only helped others breach the suppression orders because they thought they were above the law and could do what they wanted. A big difference.

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