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Crikey Says

Dec 13, 2012

Crikey says: media manipulation and justice

Many stand accused after the Peter Slipper verdict yesterday -- including a lawyer with form on beating up cases. Glenn Stevens flags a new threat to the economy. Lord Leveson in Australia: why he might not have bothered. And will Australian police arrest the Sea Shepherd captain?

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“A lawyer cannot open a case in court by making statements that may have ruinous consequences to the person attacked that the lawyer cannot substantiate or justify by evidence. Similarly, a lawyer cannot plead such statements and assert that they are supported by sworn or affirmed evidence, when he or she does not have a reasonable basis for making such an assertion.”

That was Justice Steven Rares in his judgment on the Peter Slipper harassment case he threw out of court yesterday. According to at least one lawyer Crikey spoke to today, the lawyer at the end of the barb could now face an investigation by the NSW Law Society.

Harmers Workplace Lawyers partner Michael Harmer has a reputation for taking on high-profile cases, filing broad-ranging statements of claim and using the media to win support — just like he did in winning former David Jones employee Kristy Fraser-Kirk a big payout in a harassment case against then-CEO Mark McInnes. As one legal source told us:

“It is all to do with pressuring clients into settling. You would think that clients would think twice before putting themselves in that position, it is pretty horrible stuff.”

Plenty of pollies stand accused by Justice Rares and the Slipper saga, as we reported yesterday. It might also be time to examine the legal fraternity and the tactics they use to manipulate justice.

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