The rehabilitation of Steve Vizard suffered a setback yesterday when
the pesky question of potential perjury charges raised its head after
it was leaked that the disgraced funnyman had fronted Victoria police
on Wednesday to “tidy up” this matter which has
supposedly been “gathering dust” at police HQ for the past 12 months.
Vizard was accompanied by gun Arnold Bloch Leibler partner Leon Zwier, one of the smartest corporate lawyers in Melbourne who
got Peter Scanlon and John Elliott off their Elders IXL theft and
conspiracy charges in the late 1990s.
Once again, the role of Vizard’s spindoctor Mike Smith became part of
the story after the 3AW morning program of mutual mate Neil Mitchell was chosen as the vehicle to
launch the counter-spin. The Australian’s Richard Gluyas had the best summary today, but it is worth going back and looking at the relationships over the years, not just the
“pleasant social lunch” that Mitchell says he enjoyed with Vizard earlier this month.
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Mitchell told his audience he’s been friends with Smith for 35 years dating back to their time together on The Age, but it’s a relationship that has worked well for both since the former Age editor took up spin doctoring more than a decade ago.
When Mitchell was President of the Melbourne Press Club in the late 1990s he had no
problems with Smith sitting on the committee and building its website
despite his reputation for representing dodgy clients such as Brian
Quinn, Mexican fugitive Carlos Cabal and Japanese whalers.
Mitchell invited Vizard to be guest speaker at the Quill Awards in
March 2000, the same month that the funnyman spent $500,000 buying
Sausage Software shares days before the Telstra-driven merger with
Solution 6 was announced.
Was Mitchell outraged that he’d been duped by an insider trader? Nope, he penned a sympathetic column in the Herald Sun last year attacking the media for being too tough on Vizard.
“Who needs the law when we have a vigilante partnership of media and
regulators?” Mitchell wrote.
Before his plea-bargain confession, Smith and Vizard went around
privately briefing key media people in Melbourne claiming there was
nothing in the ASIC inquiry and the funnyman was completely innocent.
Smith himself should have been outraged at Vizard’s lies to him because
this deceit damaged them both, but Smith stuck by his
disgraced client, perhaps because Vizard’s business manager Shaun
Levin, was last year the registered owner of 48 of the 120 Inside PR
As for the links between Smith and Mitchell, the relationship is presumably just too important
commercially and editorially. This is from Crikey Daily on 8 December, 2002:
We have the explanation as to how 3AW’s Neil Mitchell finished up with
a front page story in the Herald Sun last Thursday plugging his
interview that morning with the Wales-King children claiming their
murdered parents may have been alive for 6 hours after first being
bashed by son Matthew.
Several weeks ago, the not guilty children of Margaret Wales-King went
to Mike Smith and David
Wilson at Inside PR for some advice on how best to get their story into
the market place. We all know that Mike Smith and Mitchell are very
good buddies so the story was handed to him on a platter.
It reminds us of the time that Mike Smith gave Mitchell the story
on the family of the child who sadly contracted HIV via a blood
transfusion, for which Mitchell won a Quill Award from the same
Melbourne Press Club that he chairs.
Wonder if Mitchell will get a Quill for this Mike Smith special as
All very cosy.