Seven Network chairman Kerry Stokes is passionate when it comes to his public, corporate and private lives.

In the corporate arena he is persisting with the very expensive C7 court case against his competitors including billionaire peers in Kerry Packer and Rupert Murdoch.

Privately, Stokes is passionate about art, especially Australian art.

And he’s also a great believer in all things West Australian. So it probably wasn’t surprising that he had a letter published in The Weekend Australian on Saturday criticising the paper for its report on the retirement of WA Chief Justice David Malcolm.

“It is not just the legal fraternity of Western Australia that is upset by the terms used by your newspaper recently to describe Chief Justice David Malcolm upon the announcement of his retirement (“Judging the judges,” 14/11)”, he wrote on Saturday.

A week ago The Australian ran an editorial that continued its attack on the retiring Chief Justice and defended its coverage of the issue, arguing that an independent body was needed to oversee whether Australian Justices are fit to sit on the bench. On November 10 The Australian published a story on the retirement of Justice Malcolm as Chief Justice of WA headlined “Bumbling chief justice to retire” that got the WA legal fraternity to a little annoyed.

After months of speculation about his health, the nation’s longest-serving chief justice has announced he will retire from the bench in February. West Australian Chief Justice David Malcolm – embroiled in controversy earlier this year after making errors that led to a murder trial being aborted – has accepted a chair of law at Perth’s University of Notre Dame.

In his letter, Stokes also said:

This is not a case of the “legal club” closing ranks. I am, as indeed anyone would be, appalled that you would consider it appropriate to use an occasion for the celebration of Justice Malcolm’s stellar legal career and outstanding contribution to the broader community, to do nothing but hurl gratuitous insults at him.

I do not accept for a moment that your actions were driven by a noble desire to ensure the independent scrutiny of the conduct of West Australian judicial officers. Had that been your motivation, there would undoubtedly have been other ways in which such a case could have been advanced in a manner consistent with the sensitivity and courtesy that should be afforded to people such as Chief Justice Malcolm, who has served our community so well and so tirelessly for decades.

I am certain that I speak for many West Australians in acknowledging and thanking Chief Justice Malcolm for his pre-eminent leadership and his enormous contribution to our state, and in wishing him well in his new position as chair of law at Notre Dame University.

There’s also another piece of background here: News Ltd is one of the defendants in the C7 case and the presiding judge in that case, Justice Ron Sackville, is currently pressing News over a story published on the front page of The Weekend Australian on November 5.

That story quoted a former CEO of Seven, Julian Mounter, as disputing evidence Stokes had just finished giving in the witness box in the C7 case. Mounter was removed by Stokes as CEO of Seven a number of years ago; a decision that has been discussed in evidence.

Mr Justice Sackville is upset that evidence in the case was discussed in a story in the paper by someone who will not appear in court.

He has managed to get the information from news counsel that Allens partner, Michael Ball, was the person who provided the News journalist with Mounter’s phone number.

No doubt Mr Stokes wasn’t too impressed at the Mounter story either.