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Crikey is urging Steve Price to continue his defamation action against us to help facilitate a much needed debate in Australia about media ethics, defamation laws and free speech.

Wedding guest Gina Schoff stood up for Mr Price and said Crikey’s counsel was not present as the consent orders were agreed to.

His Honour made a couple of adjustments to the proposed dates and this is what he has come up with:

In relation to the defamation case:

1. The plaintiff file and serve an Amended Statement of claim on or before 23 February 2001.

2. The defendants file and serve their Defence on or before March 20, 2001.

3. Further directions March 30.

And in relation to the Contempt summons by Steve Price, it will be heard by a different judge in the Practice Court and the following time table has been agreed to:

1. Outline of facts and contentions by March 8.

2. Hearing before Judge in Practice Court March 12 (this is a holiday and will probably change).

Gina and her defacto Will Houghton, QC, were both listed as acting for Price on the consent orders. After coming to our post-wedding drinks last October, they probably won’t have time to join us for a Sunday picnic this weekend on the throw rug they generously gave Paula and I as a wedding present.

We’ll be on the throw rug down at 3AW this afternoon but suspect they will be flat our working up all these legal documents.

Now, Crikey has been thoroughly misunderstood by Price and [email protected] in relation to the contempt summons.

Rather than wanting them to withdraw their action I am firmly of the view that they should continue in the public interest.

Australia needs a really good debate about media ethics, defamation laws and free speech and this is shaping up to be an excellent trigger. The public interest demands that Price continues his claim.

Similarly, if our friends Gina and Will are to be paid for their fine work, we want the case to continue for as long as possible. Let’s hope [email protected] does not change counsel just because Gina and Paula are friends, share the same out-tray in chambers and have keys to access each other’s office.

And if Crikey loses, we are more likely to be able to pay Gina and Will for their fine work if the current surge in subscriptions and page impressions on Crikey continues. We could also auction the lovely throw rug to meet their bills which are expected to run at about $1500 a day for Will given that his is a highly respected QC, and about $750 a day for Gina, his defacto and a very promising junior counsel.

As the 120 guests at the Crikey AGM were told on February 14 (the day the contempt summons was served), Crikey received only one new subscription in the week between Christmas and New Year.

But when Price served his defamation claim on January 2, subscriptions literally took off. We’ve taken almost 200 new subs in the past six weeks which has brought in gross proceeds of $6000 – a record performance.

If us Steves are able to resolve our differences, I would like to offer him the post of Marketing Manager for Crikey Media.

Anyway, I think it is important that we stress to Steve and [email protected] that we in no way are trying to pressure them into withdrawing the action as he claims in the contempt summons.

To this end, we will be down at 3AW this afternoon between 4pm and 6pm this afternoon emphasising this fact to anyone walking past 43-49 Banks St, South Melbourne. Subscribers are welcome to come along and whilst we can’t be responsible for what you do or say, I personally will be writing to Mr Anderson encouraging them to continue with their defamation action. What readers of this website do is totally up to you in our democratic society.

We are proposing an honour board for subscribers or donors who would like it to be known they have provided financial support for Crikey since January 2.

Please email any replies and messages you would like me to post urging Steve and his legal team to continue their actions in the public interest. We’ll call it the “Steve Price free speech honour board” and make public your name and the amount you have contributed.

Lastly, we’ll be having a fundraiser in Sydney on the evening of Thursday, March 1, so if anyone has any suggestions on a good venue please let us know. Proceedings will kick off around 6.30pm.

That’s all for now. See you at 4pm today at 3AW.

This is a copy of the flyer we will be handing out at 3AW this afternoon. Once again, we repeat out apology and retraction of the original inaccurate material.

WWW.CRIKEY.COM.AU

Friday, Feb 16, 2001

KEEP SUING STEVE SO WE CAN DEBATE DEFO AND FREE SPEECH

Dear Bank St pedestrian,

We run Australia’s best known independent news website called www.crikey.com.au. Part of our charter is ethical journalism and we have waged a campaign against the so-called cash for comment scandals over the past year. This campaign has included standing for the board of NRMA and the Commonwealth Bank to try and pressure them into stopping these sponsorship arrangements with 2UE’s Alan Jones and John Laws.

We believe that on-air presenters should not accept freebies from private companies, especially multinationals selling imported goods to Australians.

The Australian Broadcasting Authority last year recorded 17 adverse findings against 6PR, which is also owned by 3AW’s parent company Southern Cross Broadcasting, headquartered here at 43-49 Bank St South Melbourne.

However, we must stress that 3AW was not found to be in breach by the ABA and Drive time presenter Steve Price was completely exonerated when questions were raised about the loan of a Volvo he gets from sponsor Bilia Hawthorn.

We were deeply concerned when 3AW reinstated convicted contra for comments rorter Bruce Mansfield into the Nightline shift earlier this year. Afterall, 3AW general manager Graham Mott said at the time of Mansfield’s sacking in November 1999:

“Now I hate to say this, but the fact is that the station’s integrity, the business of 3AW and Southern Cross is greater than the individual. And if an individual makes a choice to breach their contract and policy, then as sad as it may be, they can’t be here.”

We should disclose that Steve Price has issued defamation proceedings against Stephen Mayne personally and Crikey Media Pty Ltd in the Victorian Supreme Court. We have and continue to prominently apologise and express regret for publishing a media release written by political candidate Raymond Hoser suggesting that there were adverse ABA findings against him.

Mr Price has also issued a Contempt summons seeking the court to punish Crikey Media and Stephen Mayne for allegedly seeking to intimidate him and his lawyer into withdrawing the defamation action. However, the reverse applies. We hope that Steve Price continues to sue us for defamation because it will trigger a much-needed debate media ethics, defamation laws and free speech in Australia.

We also hope that Mr Price does not broadcast any private conversations he inadvertently tapes me having as he did to Pauline Hanson on Wednesday this week.

For further information: www.crikey.com.au

Stephen Mayne: [email protected]

Peter Fray

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