Charged with crimes that could get them two years imprisonment, three arrogant Fairfax journos and a senior Greensparty operative and state government bureaucrat didn’t bother attending the Melbourne Magistrates Court for the first hearing Thursday.
In what is only the first part of the criminal trial of three Age journalists and a Greensparty senior operative over allegedly illegal computer database hacking of their political opponents, observers were surprised the four failed to attend the court at the mention hearing of the charges at the Melbourne Magistrates Court today.
The AgeBC’s one-time rising star Nick McKenzie, CFMEU chum Ben Schneiders, veteran lefty scribe Royce Millar and near-miss Greensparty Brunswick candidate and EPA honcho Fraser Brindley are all accused of penetrating the ALP’s confidential database that it uses to communicate with voters, as provided by the Victorian Electoral Commission.
Oddly, a story bearing McKenzie and Millar’s by-line at the time, essentially boasted of having committed the crime and sources told VEXNEWS at the time the IP traffic on the ALP’s systems confirmed that some had penetrated the database from IP addresses associated with The Age. A brazen crime indeed, if the elements of it are proven in court.
We note that the criminally accused are entitled to the presumption of innocence under our system of justice.
That said, the hysterical defence offered by beseiged Fairfax management over the allegations, that being held to account for the allegedly criminal behaviour is itself an attack on press freedom, won’t help them in court very much.
Even this part of their story, as we have previously reported, doesn’t stack up in that sources say the accused did searches on individual records in the database that didn’t relate at all to their initial beat-up story or indeed, in some cases, to any story at all.
As we have explained before, the extent of the Age’s ferocious denunciation of News Limited in Australia as being collectively guilty for the transgressions of UK tabloid colleagues (and some employed in other companies) was central to our initial reporting of this story. They denounced the breaches of privacy and law that so many British journos engaged in in that highly competitive news market.
Their pious words now appear very embarrassing indeed, given the criminal charges their best and dullest now face. It will be pleasing to see the whites of Fairfax management’s lies in open court.