There’s nothing quite like it – trial by media, that is. Just ask former AFL star and commentator Wayne Carey. If you had read, watched and listened to various media outlets yesterday, you would be forgiven for thinking that Carey had been charged with serious offences and found guilty, all within 24 hours.

How about we all take a Bex and have a good lie down. And how about we remember that Carey, like each and every one of us, is entitled to the presumption of innocence.

Before anyone runs off at the mouth about what a terrible fellow that Carey is, let’s put some salient facts on the table.

Firstly, Carey has not yet been charged with any offences as a result of his alleged altercation with police on Sunday evening, and he may not be charged.

Secondly, the use by Channel 7 and Channel 9 last night of CCTV footage of Carey being escorted from his apartment by police was a gross breach of Carey’s rights. The use of footage such as this surely interferes with Carey’s right to a fair trial, given the way in which the media are portraying the footage.

Thirdly, if the body corporate of the apartment block in which Carey’s Port Melbourne apartment is located gave the CCTV footage to media outlets without the consent of Carey, they may face legal action from him.

Fourthly, if a security guard gave the footage to the media, then he or she had no legal right to do so. In fact, it could be said that if that was the case, then the security guard or any person other than the body corporate who took the footage has committed theft, and if the TV stations took it from such a source they are guilty of handling stolen goods. The fact that they didn’t pay for the footage, as Channel 9 self righteously proclaimed last night, is irrelevant.

Finally, the organisations with which Carey has media contracts such as 3AW should think long and hard before sacking him. They would surely not tear up a contract with one of their employees or contracted talent simply on the basis that the individual is being invested by police or has been charged? Or perhaps, if they follow the lead of some other media outlets, they would, given that when it comes to Wayne Carey the presumption of innocence appears to be irrelevant.

Even the Victorian Police Commissioner Christine Nixon has decided that Carey is guilty, with her highly prejudicial and unfortunate comments yesterday about Carey not being a good role model for kids. Maybe the presumption of innocence gets in the way of the Chief Commissioner’s let’s get tough with crims strategy that she’s announcing today.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey