Journalist and author Paul Barry certainly has a curious view of the idea of privacy. He’s working on an unauthorised biography of Shane Warne and elaborated on his ambitions in this story in today’s Australian. That’s the online version, which doesn’t mention Barry’s book on One.Tel or Kerry Packer as the full story did in the print edition of The Australian.
The story claimed that James Packer “once complimented the author for writing a ‘fair and balanced’ account of his father’s life.” The online version omitted that reference but left in one to Alan Bond, who Barry chased for almost 10 years in print and for Four Corners on the ABC.
But it was his comment in The Australian about Warne’s privacy that caught my eye:
Barry was bemused by the cricketer’s alleged statement that it should be illegal to write a book about someone without their permission.”It would be a strange country if we had laws against that,” he said. “He’s a public figure and sells all sorts of things to the public, so he’s given away his rights to privacy.”
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The episode is reminiscent of another snub towards the author, by Alan Bond, who stomped on Barry’s business card (in fact it was his producer’s card with Barry’s name hand-written on the back), when he handed it to him and asked if he remembered who he was. As Bond ground the card into the ground, Barry remarked “So you do remember?”
“I thought I’d turn up at the press conference and ask him a few things at the end,” Barry said yesterday.
Barry said he had first written to Warne as a matter of courtesy when he had decided to write the unauthorised biography.
“I told him it wouldn’t be hostile … I’m writing the book because I think he’s a fantastic sportsman.”
Barry should know better than to claim that a person in the public eye has no right to privacy. Of course they do, or is Barry now a member of the paparazzi? Barry can write anything he wants about Shane Warne, so long as it isn’t defamatory. There is nothing wrong with an unauthorised biography, but Barry has to respect Warne’s privacy.
Wouldn’t Barry claim an invasion of his privacy if someone started fossicking around in his life? After all, by his own standards Paul Barry is a public figure – author of four books, stints at Four Corners, Media Watch, Fairfax and the Nine Network’s (Packer-owned), 60 Minutes and A Current Affair.
Then again, there probably isn’t anything much in Barry’s private life that would embarrass him, which is not what you can say about Shane Warne. Bring on the book, but no-one should be surprised that Warnie isn’t co-operating.