BREAKING NEWS: Editor of Ryde’s The Weekly Times has been cleared after a reckless three and a half year campaign by ICAC and a compliant DPP was finally dealt with in a real court without Rafferty’s Rules.
The Northern District Times published a report on last week’s decision by Magistrate Megan Greenwood at Downing Centre Local Court to clear John Booth, editor of its competitor, The Weekly Times (of Ryde).
In its report, the Northern District Times made reference to the “Downing St” court, perhaps explaining why it has taken more than a week to report the verdict.
But the Northern District Times editor Colin Kerr produced an otherwise factual and balanced report, after three years of scrutiny-free coverage of ICAC’s reckless claims and has even offered an occasional soap box for their protagonist.
Mr Booth said after the hearing that he always claimed his innocence and this was reaffirmed by the not guilty verdict.
“Finally I have had the opportunity to clear my name in a genuine court of law and found to be innocent and not guilty and the charge dismissed,” Mr Booth told The Northern District Times.
“Thank you to the many who have supported me and never wavered in their belief in my integrity and now have generously offered their congratulations.
“It is just disappointing that so many innocent and honourable citizens can be so maligned and discredited by the likes of ICAC which is supposed to represent the welfare of the community.”
Star Chamber Wars has known the result of the court case since the decision came down on April 11, but held off publishing the news to allow Mr Booth to first publish his reaction to the result in his paper.
Mr Booth had been accused of lying to the ICAC about one of his advertisers, Barry O’Grady, who had passed away before the Ryde public inquiry commenced.
ICAC suggested during the inquiry that Barry O’Grady was something of a phantom or fictitious character, but it would have known through interviews it conducted privately, that he was real and had previously advertised in the The Weekly Times.
Despite this, the ICAC and DPP persisted with a prosecution against Mr Booth, which has proved to be little more than an abuse of process.
Lobbyist and Ryde councillor, Bill Pickering, who has in the past protested about the lack of coverage about him in The Weekly Times, has loudly and openly declared his role in providing ICAC with information for its Ryde inquiry.
At the time of the Ryde inquiry, lazy and compromised reporting completely missed the fact that ICAC was being led in evidence by a lobbyist, after ICAC under the leadership of Justice Ipp, had in 2010 initiated a costly inquiry into the risks posed by lobbyists.
Once upon a time, journalists would be regarded as experts when they managed to get a *nudge nudge, wink wink* leak from an investigative body, without rule of evidence, like the ICAC.
In truth, leaks of information of unverifiable accuracy should be of concern to journalists. All they do is create a catalyst for laziness and neglect of the fundamental role of a reporter, to scrutinise, expose, analyse and educate their audience on issues.
Even worse, journalists with egocentric motives and a desire to maintain their often dubiously-earned reputations become ideal targets for grooming by ICAC figures that have worked out that headlines and sensationalism blur the goalposts of performance and expectations.
By settling on a compliant handful of reporters for their leaks, ICAC knows the pressure to “do the right thing” if they want more ICAC goodies is a winning strategy.
It allows its often inaccurate and misleading allegations and narratives to go unchallenged, without – or at most, with a disingenuous attempt at – scrutiny.
So when ICAC’s rotten internal culture starts to affect the quality, frequency and motivations for its inquiries, journalists can find themselves unintentionally peddling creative concoctions simply designed to shore up the reputation of an underperforming agency.
When a reckless agency like ICAC comes under fire from sections of the media driven by accountability of the government and the public right to know, the ICAC-aligned journalists and their associated mastheads find themselves playing the role of apologist.
The absurdity of a journalist with the title of “investigative journalist” that steadfastly refuses to investigate or write on alleged internal corruption at ICAC, including tampering of evidence, political interference, suppression of exculpatory and other enlightening evidence, is now a reality.
The Australian’s legal affairs editor, Chris Merritt, doesn’t need ICAC handouts of little or questionable accuracy to be at the top of his game.
In recent years, as media organisations shed staff en masse and investigative resources become thin on the ground, Chris’ dedication and attention to detail has produced industry-leading reporting on ICAC.
NSW taxpayers and other interested observers are the beneficiaries. They can now access information in the public domain that includes details of ICAC’s worsening performance, maladministration and wasteful inquiries.
Chris Merritt’s columns have become a compelling read – here’s one of them.
#auspol #nswpol #auslaw #nswlaw #ICAC @australian @smh @dailytelegraph
Host of the annual Oscars, The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has snubbed a bid by lobbyist/councillor Bill Pickering to become the first recipient of a coveted gong in a new community category.
In the lead-up to today’s Oscars ceremony in Los Angeles, there was heavy speculation the Academy would introduce a category to recognise those “who achieved excellence in acting in miscellaneous community-related roles”.
Reports last month confirmed Pickering was the only nomination for the category after the Academy mailed several hundred prospects following a call for nominations from fans through its website.
Pickering’s now-famous performance involved a stint on the paramedics’ stretcher and in a neck brace after political rival Vic Tagg reacted to a year long campaign of provocation by Pickering with a misguided reflex action, that could only cause injury through lack of oxygen from uncontrollable laughter.
Set during a Ryde Council by-election last February, the elaborate display of performance involved his less-dedicated factional colleagues from the Liberal Party’s religious Right faction.
Their job was to deliver scripted accounts as the only ‘witnesses’ to the media. Despite providing reporters with three different versions of the performance’s centrepiece “coward’s punch” it worked, resulting in blanket coverage.
Even Media Watch got in on the act, running a story almost definitely provided by Pickering or a Pickering theatrical assistant, to divert attention away from a real Media Watch story – the media’s lack of attention to detail that saw it fed a pup.
“I couldn’t believe it – all that was missing was lots of blood,” said one Putney resident, Bill Shamateur, who caught the performance aftermath.
“I saw him lying there, kind of lifeless and I said t my son: ‘this could improve his contribution to local issues, it looks as though he’s dead’.
“But seriously, he’s got some acting talent and he should follow his dreams to Hollywood or get his mates to arrange him a bit part in an evangelical flick or some Opus Dei production.”
Among the reporters that realised the media had been fooled by a brilliant display of raw street acting was Seven Network’s Robert Ovadia, who noted during a chat on Richard Glover’s afternoon radio show on ABC 702, that the picture of Pickering on the stretcher had been sent to media within 15 minutes of the performance.
Also raining on the parade was the duty doctor at Ryde Hospital, who wasn’t able to find as much as a scratch on Pickering. Did someone forget to send him the script?
Despite the impressive Pickering performance, it ultimately didn’t matter with the Academy making a last minute decision to defer introduction of the new community category until next year.
Meanwhile, there’s speculation NIDA may offer the lobbyist/councillor a scholarship, to allow him to hone his skills for roles requiring a sharia law-resistant robe.