Wednesday, 2 July 2008

Paper faces stalking charge

Queensland Police Commissioner Bob Atkinson will be asked to consider charging a newspaper with stalking after it asked readers to help put a man back in prison.

Civil Liberties Council of Queensland vice-president Terry O'Gorman today said he would write to the commissioner asking him to investigate whether charges should be laid against The Gold Coast Bulletin over today's front page article on Dennis Ferguson.

He said he would also lodge a complaint with the Australian Press Council.

The newspaper article, headlined "Dob in this monster", asks for readers to help get Ferguson "locked away and to keep our children safe".

It also asks readers to contact the paper if they knew Ferguson's whereabouts.

Mr O'Gorman described the article as "malicious" and said it encouraged vigilante activity against Ferguson who had been forced to leave two towns after being subjected to community attacks.

"The Gold Coast Bulletin's behaviour in extending this invitation is, in effect, encouraging people to break the law," Mr O'Gorman said.

"This is just deliberate commercialism, something designed to produce a sensational headline so it would increase circulation.

"The fact is that Ferguson, or anyone else once they are released from jail, they are entitled to live their life without being harassed at the behest and encouragement of media outlets."

A Brisbane judge yesterday threw out recent child sex charges against Ferguson after ruling he could not receive a fair trial because of previous widespread media coverage.

District Court Judge Hugh Botting granted a permanent stay on the proceedings based on evidence by Ferguson's defence team that pre-trial publicity about his past convictions would make it difficult to find an objective jury.

Queensland Attorney-General Kerry Shine is appealing that decision.

Updated July 4 7:30 (AEST)

Ferguson fears for safety, moved again

Dennis Ferguson: fearing for his safety.

Dennis Ferguson is on the move again after community pressure forced the convicted sex-offender to leave a rural property in south-west Queensland.

Ferguson moved into the property near Miles on Tuesday night, but it did not take long for the word to get around.

Last night more than 70 angry residents gathered outside the home demanding he leave immediately.

"Our kids play at the parks but with this we want to keep them in the home because we are too scared and worried about him ... it's the children that are getting locked away and getting punished for his crime," a protesting resident said.

Fearing for his safety, Ferguson advised police he wanted to leave and he was relocated to another part of Queensland.

Miles resident Herman Smith says the town is pleased he is gone.

"They'll be very relieved, there was quite a bit of concern around and the big protest, they'll have their mind eased, they felt very strongly about it," he said.

Police have issued a statement saying 60-year-old Ferguson has now left the Darling Downs region and his new address has been recorded.

Ferguson was released from jail on Tuesday after a judge dismissed the child sex charges he was facing, ruling the evidence was weak and he would not get a fair trial in Queensland because of his notoriety.

Neal calls in police

Federal MP Belinda Neal has been involved in another provocation by corporate media, this time with a journalist pursuing her down a flight of stairs.

Following yesterday's announcement by Ms Neal and her embattled husband John Della Bosca that they would not be speaking to police - which resulted in the NSW Premier Morris Iemma forcing Mr Della Bosca to do a police interview - members of the media gathered at Gosford.

The media spent the last three and a half weeks in Gosford provoking Ms Neal's alleged altercation at Iguanas Waterfront bar on a Friday night earlier this month, in which she was alleged to have sworn, threatened employees' jobs, and said she would revoke the business's licence.

About 8.15am today, Channel Nine's A Current Affair reporter Ben Fordham and two cameramen spotted Ms Neal heading into a car park at the rear at the Mann Street side of her Gosford electorate office.

The cameramen followed her and attempted to ask Ms Neal questions but she refused and then entered a stairwell leading to the car park to her office.

Fordham and his cameramen followed her and an argument began over whether the journalists were allowed to be there.

"It was an angry confrontation, she lost her temper," Fordham said later.

Fordham said Ms Neal angrily told the Nine Network team they were in a "secured area" and they should leave immediately.

"We never set foot in her office, although even then we would have been allowed to until she told us to leave," he said.

Fordham said Ms Neal's response was over the top and neither him nor the cameraman had at any time done anything improper.

"She went ballistic again, just like she did at Iguanas. She was fired up," he said.

[If she were angry anyone could understand why, because she has been stalked by the corporate media for at least three and a half weeks.]

Ms Neal contacted police after the altercation and two constables were seen to enter her office later.

Fordham says he has not been contacted by police and he does not believe any action will be taken as a result of the altercation.

"It's quite ironic that she called the police to contain, yet she is not willing to sit down with them for an interview," Fordham said.

Ms Neal's office would not comment on the incident.

In another incident during the morning when a journalist and cameraman waited at Gosford police station, a Channel Seven reporter, Aela Callan, managed to board a Sydney bound train on the Central Coast at the same time as Mr Della Bosca.

It is understood Mr Della Bosca refused to comment, and spent at least a part of the hour-long trip between Gosford and Central Station in Sydney inside a toilet.


Corby case exploited by Channel Nine

Corby had to be taken from Bali's Kerobokan jail on Friday to the international wing of Sanglah hospital in Denpasar suffering depression.

Corbys' mother gets defamation payout
The mother of Schapelle and Mercedes Corby, Roseleigh Rose, has received a confidential payout from Channel Seven in settlement of her complaint she was defamed by its Today Tonight program.

Channel Seven guilty in Corby defamation
A Supreme Court jury has found Channel Seven guilty of defamation against Mercedes Corby.

Corby informant paid $120,000 cash, court told

A former friend of Schapelle Corby was paid "something like" $120,000 in cash by Today Tonight for a fabricated story, a defamation jury heard today.

Corby loses sentence appeal
Convicted Australian drug smuggler Schapelle Corby has lost a final appeal to have her jail sentence reduced.

Corby may serve 9 more years before transfer: Indonesia
Convicted cannabis smuggler Corby has served less than four years of a 20-year sentence.

Jail work could cut Corby's sentence
THE convicted drug trafficker Schapelle Corby may be eligible for a prison job that could shave years off the 20-year sentence she is serving in an Indonesian jail.

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