I applaud the West Australian‘s recent reporting on WA’s juvenile crime problems and other courts-related stories. That editor Paul Armstrong even faced the possibility of a charge of “scandalising the court” is a disgrace. How the hell does such a charge even exist today? What’s the punishment? Being drawn and quartered? Are judges an uber-class of citizen to be afforded more protection and respect than the rest of us?

I don’t like some of the reporting style The West has employed on these matters – and the paper should properly separate news reportage from commentary – but there’s little doubt the issues needed airing. The tone of The West Media Insider’s article to Crikey was far too “doffing the cap” to the establishment for my liking.

Judges have been a protected species for too long and it’s well-past time they were dragged kicking and screaming into the glare of public scrutiny. They and their agents have every opportunity to defend and explain their judgments not just in the media, but in law journals and of course their courtrooms.

While in the rare position of being nice to Armstrong I’d also like to take the opportunity to congratulate him on his paper’s excellent campaign for better “country of origin” food labelling in WA. It was really well done and I wish I’d thought of it.

Peter Fray

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