Mark Latham has twice faced legal repercussions over violent incidents and
on both occasions he has alleged a conspiracy between the media and the
police. This is what appeared in The Latham Diaries over the incident with Sydney taxi driver Bachir Mustafa:

Saturday, 20 October, 2001

The set-up of the century. I hadn’t heard from the Bankstown coppers
for months about the Bone Collector. Then they called on Monday, saying
they needed to interview me urgently. I said they had to be kidding,
it’s the middle of a federal election campaign and anyway, why was it
urgent when I hadn’t heard anything since July? Turns out the bloke
doing the report on the incident took a seven-week holiday in Greece.

I tried to fob them off until after the election but they kept on
calling. Eventually, I agreed to see them at Bankstown Police Station
last night, with an assurance that there would be no media involved at
any stage. Stupid me. At eight o’clock this morning, Oliver in my arms,
I answered the front door: it was a reporter from the Sun-Herald barking out questions, less than 12 hours after I left the cop shop. The abuse of police power – it’s endemic.

And the only thing that changed between Friday 13 July and now? I wrote
a Tele column with follow-up radio interviews in late July critical of
Peter Ryan and his police force.

That’s a pretty strong argument. Then we had the following
from Latham last Thursday in Crikey about the incident with the
photographer:

For 12 months I repeatedly asked the media
to respect our rights and privacy. I also asked the Campbelltown police
to protect our rights under the law, all to no avail. The old
sweetheart deal between the media and the coppers in the country still
applies.

Naturally, this wasn’t properly reported in the Murdoch press although Herald Sun
columnist John Ferguson produced the following today: “He (Latham) was
quoted as saying last week that he had asked local police for help to
protect his privacy, apparently then alleging some sort of conspiracy
between the media and the constabulary.”

Apparently? He actually said it, John, and the facts on the
taxi driver incident do look dodgy. Ferguson is a Murdoch loyalist to
the last and naturally claimed the Tele
“was operating well within its rights when it tried last month to
document Latham’s life a year after he had quit politics”.

The Murdoch press is certainly whooping it up over the Latham charges. Glenn Milne today made the ridiculous claim that “Latham’s biggest challenge right now is staying out of jail”.

As Christian Kerr reported last week, Tele editor David
Penberthy was apparently very keen to see Latham charged. So what
leverage did he have over the coppers? Well, there is the small matter
of the performance of the cops over the Cronulla riots and the
subsequent revenge attacks.

The NSW Labor Government also has no interest in protecting Latham and
is probably quite happy to see their force lay the charges.

As we’ve pointed out before, Latham was very brave to launch an attack
on the media, particularly given the savagery of the attacks against
the broader Murdoch empire. He was also very brave to launch into the
Labor Party. Given this, it was alway imperative that he keep his nose
clean, because both groups would leap at any opportunity to exact some
revenge and that is exactly what is happening now.

There will he a huge press pack at Campbelltown Local Court on
22 March and the jackals will be hoping the local beak allows them to
label Latham a “convicted criminal”.

Peter Fray

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