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S-G contacts Fairfax about contempt

By Steven | November 23, 2007

The Solicitor-General is reportedly asking Fairfax newspapers to explain their actions (publishing the “terrorism files” information), saying they may be in contempt.

The story doesn’t say whether he’s suggesting they breached the Crimes Act, too, by publishing information obtained by interception warrants.

A “please-explain” letter strikes me as a bit odd in the circumstances. What can they say? Nothing that would provide a defence. The S-G really just needs to decide whether the publications create a real risk of prejudicing the upcoming trials, and it’s hard to see how anything they say could be relevant to that. Nor to the question of breach of the Crimes Act. But perhaps he’s just following the principles of natural justice.

Still, the S-G is in a bit of a bind here. If he’s suggesting that the papers have created a real risk of prejudicing these trials, that makes it much more difficult for him to resist an application by the defendants for a stay of proceedings because of the prejudicial publications. Just as in the Mossad spy cases, the defendants making the stay application can gleefully point out that the S-G himself had concerns about contempt…

Topics: Contempt of Court, Suppression orders | No Comments »

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