Crikey’s defence of the
once-excellent newspaper columnist Mark Latham is admirable in some respects,
but its allegations against The Daily Telegraph are simply wrong.

The Daily Telegraph did
not pursue charges against Mark Latham. The police did. In fact the police had
to persuade The Daily Telegraph to provide statements. Nor did the paper decide
that Mark Latham had a case to answer. The DPP did. Without consulting us.

Crikey’s argument that
Latham is not a public figure is laughable. Crikey must have regarded him as a
public figure while it was his de facto publicist for The Latham Diaries. In
addition to pages of coverage for the book day after day, Crikey also gave
Latham space each day for weeks after the book’s release to amplify his abuse as
he responded to reader’s questions.

The publication of The
Latham Diaries
, the book’s extensive promotion by the man himself, and its
spectacular success as a best-seller all proved that Latham was and remains a
public figure – something everyone knows except Crikey and perhaps Latham. His
publisher is already spruiking the prospect of another book. We don’t expect
that they will promote it as the work of an anonymous has-been who is no longer
of any legitimate interest to Australians.

Our photographer did
not assault Latham, nor did he steal or damage his property. He took photos. Of
Latham. Not of his children. His children appeared to the side or in the
background of nine of the 50 shots. This doesn’t confirm Latham’s suspicions, as
Margaret Simons argues. It confirms what we said all along. We were not and are
not interested in Latham’s children. The only person ever interested in
thrusting his children into the spotlight was Mark Latham. When it suited him.

The value of the camera
was quoted in early reports of the incident as $12,000. This is the retail value
of the equipment Latham destroyed. The final figure represents the wholesale
value of the equipment that News was able to negotiate in order to reduce the
cost to Latham.

By all means sympathise
with Mark Latham, his political downfall, his personal problems and his health
issues. But, blaming the media if he dies prematurely? Even Margaret Simons
should know better.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey

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