A short item in last week’s unsubstantiated tips & rumours
section on how Miranda Devine talked her way into A-List seats at the
Schapelle Corby sentencing has sparked quite a response.



Last Friday Ms Devine defended herself thus


:


Your item about me yesterday was wrong.
You did not need a journalists’ visa to get into the Bali courtroom. You just
had to show your passport, which I did, and have your bag searched. The
Indonesian officials were asking for relatives to go in first. I asked if
friends could go in early but was told no. When it was time for journalists,
Sian Powell (The Australian) and I were near the front of the queue,
having waited since 6:30am. We forged though, passports open for inspection,
along with Cindy Wockner (The Daily Telegraph), reporters from AAP and
SBS and a number of local journalists and fixers. I had an excellent seat, in
the third row, right behind the Corby family, with whom I chatted during
proceedings. I think your informant is just jealous he wasn’t quick enough.

In response a subscriber writes:

I am not the original correspondent who wrote in about Miranda Devine at the
Corby case but had to respond in support of your original informant. I have just
pulled my jaw off the ground after reading Devine deny in Crikey that she had
lied her way to get into the courtroom on Friday. Her account of the events is
laughable and her gall at suggesting it didn’t happen, when there are so many
witnesses to the fact that it did, is staggeringly arrogant. Ask any of the
journalists within earshot of her on Friday (I was one of them) and they will
tell you that people are still talking about how she got in by posing as a
friend of Schapelle. The issue has caused serious concerns within
Fairfax, which was warned by staffers not to let her go to Bali because she
would be operating on a tourist visa and would jeopardise the work of
journalists over there. At best, Devine is being incredibly creative with the
facts. At worst, she is compounded one lie with another. Yes, in the end a
journalist visa wasn’t needed to enter the courtroom on the morning of the court
case, but it is needed to operate as a journalist in Indonesia and is mandatory.

Organisations covering the Corby case over here had been told to make sure they
had one. Not only was her action a breach of her visa but was highly unethical
and morally questionable. Several genuine friends and extended family members
had to stay outside because the courtroom was full. She says in her response
to Crikey that she went in with journalists including Sian Powell and Cindy
Wockner. That is absolute rubbish. Powell and Wockner were allowed in early,
along with Matthew Moore and some fixers, but the rest of the media, including
Devine, were kept out until family arrived to make sure there would be room for
the relatives and consular officials. As we were waiting patiently, Devine
proceeded to tell one of the guards that she was a friend of Schapelle’s and
needed to be in there for her. She persisted and convinced them she was a friend
and was allowed in. She did NOT go in as media. She then sat behind the family.
The incident was the talk of the Corby press contingent that night, who were
staggered at the deception and are still wondering aloud how this fits in with
Fairfax’s ethics. Her denial of the event when so many of us were present is
even more staggering and it would be interesting to see what Fairfax has to say
about one of its star columnists breaching a sizeable portion of the codes of
ethics, not to mention the moral questions over what she did.

I’m not sure
about your original correspondent but I was allowed in the courtroom so there
are no sour grapes on my part, just in case Devine suggests there are. I have
met Devine on many occasions and bear no malice towards her. But, as a
journalist, I found her actions appalling and her subsequent denial of them
incredible.

Another writes:

Miranda Devine is lying. She did claim to be a friend of the family when the court security
officials said family and friends could go into the Bali courtroom
first. I heard her do it. And she did it at least once more. I believe
Steve Pennells recorded all this in the West Australian
the day after
the verdict. He is right. It’s a mystery to me that she would deny
something that was witnessed by several people. Whether Devine actually
ended up getting in under that false guise or
not I do not know. She may have gained entry legitmately. But it is a
falsehood to say she didn’t try. Also, she somewhat overstates the case
to suggest she had been queueing to get in since 6:30am. The queue was
rather a large gaggle of journos sitting bored around a large
courtyard drinking coffee and gossiping until about 15 minutes before
the court opened, when there was a mild crush at the door. She is
correct to say that reporters did not need a journalists’ visa
to get in, though initially it had been thought we would. She did not
have a visa and was working in Indonesia illegally. There is no
jealousy involved here (and I’m not the source of the original item). I
was also in the courtroom – and never considered
breaching the code of ethics, let alone robbing a courtroom seat from
Corby’s family, in order to gain access. I do wonder though: Miranda,
when you were talking to Corby’s family
from your fabulous third-row seat, did you tell them you were a
journalist? Or did you breach the code of ethics twice that day?