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Without prejudice?

By Steven | January 21, 2011

Isn’t much of the coverage of the Auckland child abuse case based on the premise that crimes have been committed, and implicitly, that they were by the parents (and another family member)? That includes some of the statements from the government, as where Social Development Minister Paula Bennett is reported as saying that it was evident from the letter from the child’s mother that she was “actually hiding what was going on”.

How exactly are these defendants to expect a fair trial?

Topics: Contempt of Court | 38 Comments »

38 Responses to “Without prejudice?”

  1. ross Says:
    January 24th, 2011 at 2:55 pm

    I agree, Steven, that the media ought to be very careful when reporting cases like this one. It reminds me a little of the publicity surrounding the George Gwaze case in which a young child related to the accused was allegedly raped and murdered. But Gwaze was acquitted of the charges (though he now faces a retrial) which may or may not indicate that he received a fair trial.

    I would prefer that when someone has been charged with an offence, the media simply report the facts (which may be scant or unknown) and don’t go anywhere near speculation.

  2. Steven Says:
    January 24th, 2011 at 3:57 pm

    Wasn’t part of the problem with the pre-trial publicity in Gwaze that some of it was coming from a website set up by his relative insisting that he was innocent?

    But we’re on the same page here. On the other hands, the courts have pretty much got us to a position where the media can say anything they like, however prejudicial, as long as the trial is a good long way away.

    To be fair to the media, it can be hard to work out where “simply reporting the facts” starts and ends. It can be hard to know in advance of trial which facts will be contested.

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