At 2.15pm tomorrow we’ll hear the latest
reply from News Ltd’s counsel in the C7 case about just who gave the
phone number of former Seven CEO Julian Mounter to a reporter from The Australian.
background to the continuing interest in this matter of Justice Ronald
Sackville has appeared in Crikey this week and is nicely summed up in
this story from today’s Sydney Morning Herald.
This is what Mr Justice Sackville said on Tuesday morning to News Counsel, Noel Hutley SC.
Mr Hutley, I want to come back, just before we start again,
to the matter that I raised with you yesterday, and that is whether
those instructing you had facilitated or had in any way prior knowledge
of the preparation or publication of the article concerning Mr
Mounter’s alleged comments which appeared in the Weekend Australian
on 5 November 2005. I appreciate the frank disclosure explaining the
extent to which the solicitors facilitated or had prior knowledge of
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If I have understood the facts correctly, and this
is what I want to have confirmed that I have understood this correctly,
the solicitors provided a telephone number to enable a journalist to
contact Mr Mounter at a time when (a) they were aware that Mr
Mounter was not prepared to give evidence in open court; (b) they were
aware that Mr Mounter disputed Mr Stokes’ version of events given to
the court in sworn evidence; and (c) they were aware that the
journalist was likely to prepare a story which included Mr Mounter’s
version of events, notwithstanding that Mr Mounter was not then
prepared to go into the witness box himself.
Next, and subject
obviously to anything further I’m told and confirmation, I would also
infer from what I have been told that when the solicitors received
the statement by Mr Mounter on 30 September 2005 they did nothing (a)
to suggest to the journalist or the editors of The Australian that it
was undesirable for the Weekend Australian to publish an apparent
rebuttal of Mr Stokes’ evidence from a person who was not prepared
himself to give evidence in the proceedings; or (b) to ensure that
the journalist and his editors were aware that Mr Mounter was not
prepared to give evidence and request that that fact be included in any
I am saying these matters because that is
what at the moment I would infer from what I have been told. If there
is any inaccuracy or anything incomplete about that, then of course I
would ask you to raise that with me either now or later in the day or
at a convenient time.
After further discussion Tuesday morning, that afternoon Mr Hutley said he would reply on Friday to the judge’s questions.