When you get into a barney with a feisty reporter from A Current Affair, the best thing to do is publish everything you know and let the reader decide. This three part account begins with a sealed section provided to guest editor Hillary Bray by a Queensland observer on December 5. We then have a big counter-attack from ACA reporter David Margan followed by a piece from Andrew Dodd in The Australian.

You couldn’t have missed the footage last week of the bloke in Queensland getting whacked on the roadside by a Queensland copper brandishing a roadside marker post. A Current Affair ran very big with a police brutality yarn – but was everything what it really seemed?

Crikey understands that the individual involved is a psychiatric patient who had been driving around for two days throwing rocks at other vehicles. When the police finally chased him and forced him off the road he began running between cars on the road, brandishing a knife.

As he was wearing wrap around sunnies, capsicum spray failed to stop him, so an officer belted him with a post (compare and contrast with the trigger happy coppers in New South Wales and Victoria).

The individuals mother told Brisbane radio station 612 ABC Brisbane that her son had gone out with the intent of getting police to shoot him, and similar evidence was tendered at a court hearing on Friday.

Outside the hearing, one of the accused’s brothers king hit a Nine cameraman – while inside ACA reporter David Margan was negotiating an exclusive interview with other family members.

The results on that night’s program were predictable. If focussed on the police brutality angles, made no reference to the ABC interview but presumably left a few members of the accused’s family some thousands better off. Cash for comment cuts both ways.

As for the poor, er, walloper caught on camera, he probably saved the blokes life and maybe that of some motorists.

PS After defending the Queensland Police Hillary might just go and have a nice lay-down.

ACA reporter responds by getting on the front foot

To : “Hillary” c/o [email protected]

From : David Margan ([email protected])

I write in response to an email ‘newsletter’ that apparently was posted at crikey.com. or by crikey.com.

Unfortunately one of the problems with the web, the net, is that lies can gain currency and individuals lurking behind the mask of anonymity can inflate their flacid egos by peddling malicious opinion and innuendo as fact. Some architects of such sites even appear to relish this intellectually moribund sport.

‘Hillary’ is a classic example of the genre.

In a recent email ‘Hillary’ spruiks about a story involving the alleged police assault of Scott Paul that was covered by the media including “A Current Affair’. I work for that program and I was the reporter covering that story.

‘Hillary’ claims that Paul “had been driving around for two days throwing rocks at other vehicles”. There is no evidence that is true. ‘Hillary’, not surprisingly offers no evidence to support his claim.

‘Hillary’ claims ‘capsicium spray failed to stop him’ , while that is what the police claim, the amateur video footage shows an unarmed man cowering on the ground rubbing his eyes. This would at least raise questions about the pversion of events and the necessity of clobbering him with a plank or roadside marker.

‘Hillary’ opinions that while a member of Paul’s family assaulted a Channel Nine reporter outside the Southern District Courthouse at Beenleigh, Queensland, I was inside negotiating an exclusive interview with other family members ” Untrue! Our success at getting access to the family and their side of the story was done much earlier in the day and was achieved by the best measures of professional journalism, we were first, we were well regarded and we were trusted. The claim by ‘Hillary’ that we had paid for our success, a claim repeated on air by our commercial rivals who ‘missed’ half the story was and is totally incorrect and was in fact, a deliberate and malicious lie.

‘Hillary’s deliberate marriage of the two above events was made so as to suggest that we had no concern about the well being of a colleague. Again, that is totally untrue. Carl Stefanovic is not only a colleague but a friend.

I was utterly dismayed later in the day when I saw the severity of the assault on him. But that assault in no way mitigates my professional duty to discover the truth re the circumstances surrounding the arrest of Simon Paul.

The claim by ‘Hillary’ that we deliberately made no reference to an ABC radio interview where Scott Paul’s mother admitted her son wanted to commit suicide by having the police shoot him is again utterly wrong.

Firstly the radio interview wasn’t on the ABC but 4BC. Secondly we made two references in our story to Scott Paul’s desire to be shot to committ suicide.

If we have the mum in our own interview saying it, why on earth would I run material from another media outlet and a radio one at that?

‘Hillary’ not only has no respect for the truth but clearly doesn’t have a clue about journalism.

Finally, too the most important issue of all.

Scott Paul’s injuries that were clear to anyone who was actually in the courtroom that morning raise serious questions as to how and when they were inflicted. There is a strong suspicion, indeed evidence that they may have been inflicted after his arrest.

(Again our story scooped everyone else by getting access to video of his injuries for all to see.)

How a troubled man with no previous history of violence or indeed any criminal convictions was dealt with by officers of the Queensland Police force is a matter of importance to all of us.

The notion that your mysterious correspondent seems keen to support – namely, that the police can act outside the laws of the land and indeed their own procedures in the arrest of an individual – is not one that anyone interested in a just society can accept.

Queensland’s Criminal Justice Commission clearly agrees because they are investigating the matter.

The imputations of this anonymous email would suggest that the author is either a member of the media who was beaton (sic) on the story who was motivated by malice or what is more likely, a police officer uncomfortable with the facts.

Though, in the spirit of Hillary’s poisonous missive rumour has it that they’re a Liberal Party staffer, you know, those o’h (sic) so honest people who brought you babies in the sea.

Whoever you are, Hillary, you are a liar and a coward.

David Margan

Journalist

A Current Affair

Channel Nine

What The Australian reported about the incident

By Andrew Dodd

Editor of The Diary in ‘Media’

Just in case readers thought brawling was the sole province of the ABC, after last week’s report on the post-dinner entertainment at the Walkleys, Diary can report on more fisticuffs in this the season of goodwill.

A tape arrived on the desk this week revealing several camera angles of a fight outside a Brisbane courtroom in which Nine network news reporter Karl Stefanovic was king hit by the brother of a man called Gary Andrew Paul, who is on trial for car stealing, dangerous driving and assaulting police.

The incident appeared on TV news reports but it’s the behind-the-scenes stuff that’s really interesting. In one camera angle Diary was intrigued to see a Ten reporter called Paul Kennedy asking an A Current Affair cameraman why he was being so friendly with someone who had just whacked his own colleague.

The ACA cameraman’s response was to pick with Kennedy, who to his credit walked away. The footage was pooled and sent to virtually every TV newsroom in the country, so everyone got to see. Word is that Nine newsroom staff and too happy about it.

ends

CRIKEY: The A Current Affair Brisbane office sound like a stable bunch of fun-loving guys.

Peter Fray

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