Margaret Simons writes:

So it’s official. Mark Latham and Daily Telegraph photographer Ross Schultz were both at fault in the
Hungry Jack’s incident last January.
Yesterday Latham was placed on a two-year good behaviour bond with no criminal conviction
recorded, but Magistrate Michael Stoddart made it clear both men were out of
line. Who can disagree?

So ends the saga, perhaps. And perhaps not. Now might be as good a
moment as any to reflect on the context of the continuing pursuit of
Latham. There are some facts which seem to
have been conveniently forgotten.

Mark Latham has a life-threatening
illness. There is no cure for
pancreatitis, and it can kill. Stress
doesn’t help. The attacks he has already
had may well have shortened his life. Latham’s pancreatitis is a result of the
radiotherapy treatment he had many years ago when he suffered from testicular
cancer.

Taking all this fully on board makes some
of Latham’s recent actions, particularly his impatience, what he would probably
describe as truth telling, and most of all his determination to spend time with
his children, at least understandable.

Latham is hardly Princess Di. He is not nearly as photogenic, and certainly
not as popular. He may have as many
character flaws. And yes, like her he
has in the past used the media, including to promote his book. Yet the ethical issues are there for those
willing to see. What do the media
actually want from this man? Do they
want him dead, or just broken? Does
anyone think of the children?

Latham’s lawyer presented the
court with nine photos showing the Latham children from a total of 50 pictures
taken by Schultz. Latham’s suspicion
that his children were being photographed was therefore substantially correct.

Another interesting aspect of the case is the way in which the value of the
camera Latham smashed has dropped from the early reports in News Ltd
newspapers, which described it as being worth $12,000. Prosecutors finally settled on a value of
just under $6,700. And what was Schultz
doing there in the first place? The
incidents took place the day after
the anniversary of Latham’s retirement from politics. It’s not like the Tele to be late. We may never know what the story was meant to be.

If Latham became fatally ill with another
attack would there be any reflection in the halls of power at News Ltd and
Channel Ten in particular on whether the so-called stories that they have been
pursuing were really worth it? And what would be the impact on the media’s
public credibility, and our ability to go in hard when it really matters?