federal Court judge hearing the C7 case involving the Seven network and 22 respondents has this morning taken the News Ltd
paper, The Weekend Australian, to task for publishing an article on November 5
quoting the former head of the Seven Network, Julian Mounter.

included comments by Mounter replying to evidence his
former chairman, Kerry Stokes, had given in his time in the witness box at the
start of the case.

Mr Justice Ronald Sackville told
the court this morning his associate had written to News Ltd’s barrister, Noel Hutley SC
concerning the story.

He told
the court:

The article in The
Weekend Australian
, which I have a copy of but has now disappeared, purports
to recount Mr Mounter’s
response to certain sworn evidence given by Mr

I want to say something
about the article and then come to the question that I have asked Mr Hutley.

The first is something
that goes without saying and nonetheless I will say it, and that is that
the article will of course have no bearing on any finding I make or
conclusion I reach in these proceedings.

The second thing I want to say
is, well, first I want to say nothing about the intentions of the author of
the article. I do wish to observe,
however, that there would seem to be more than a hint of conflict of
interest for a party to litigation to publish in its own newspaper an
article apparently calculated to cast doubt upon the veracity of the
evidence which is adverse to the interest of the publisher. That may be
something for others to consider, I don’t mean in a legal

Mr Hutley
told the court his instructing solicitors had not had anything to do with the
story, pointing out that they had discovered that The Weekend Australian was now
being advised by a different firm of solicitors on this matter.

He said
his side has wanted to call Mr Mounter as a witness, but that he had so far refused for
various reasons which he would not reveal in an open court.

Seven had given ground on the question of mediation, saying it would mediate
with the AFL, possibly the Australian Rugby League, and that it was in
discussions with the Ten network, its co-bidder for the
new AFL rights.