The media wants the ALP’s power couple, Della and Bel to cough up to the cops and be interviewed; a reasonable request so that the story about John Della Bosca and Belinda Neal can continue going and the media can continue fielding leaks to keep it in the public eye.
The latest demands followed another paid interview or two on A Current Affair last night, which this time did help boost viewing levels past rival Today Tonight in Sydney and Melbourne, but not nationally.
But Della and Bel don’t have to follow the media’s demands and make themselves available to police, and if they do, they don’t have to answer any questions: people are not required to incriminate themselves, even if it looks bad or makes them appear foolish. Despite ACA‘s loot which has made a number of witnesses open their gobs, the Woy Woy power couple don’t have to say a word.
They will of course pay a price: constant hounding for a while until the media gets diverted by another scandal or a story where ambitious reporters, like ACA‘s Ben Fordham, can see a way of furthering their bylines and careers.
If you were a conspiratorial type and have watched the NSW rightwing dominated ALP at work, you wouldn’t be far wrong in wondering if there was a very subtle strategy at work here now.
When former Neal staffer, Melissa Batten and then her husband went public with paid for interviews on ACA last week, did the ALP’s hard heads realise that this might provide Della and Bel with a way out?
And then there was last night’s story with Iguana’s staff who claims to have been insulted, yelled at and spat at by Ms Neal: Nine has refused to say if it was paid for, so it was.
Paid for interviews can be very problematic in court, as the Seven Network found with the Jodie Power person who was paid for making allegations against Mercedes Corby.
In fact by the time Corby’s counsel Stuart Littlemore had finished with Ms Power, Seven’s defence was in tatters (and should the Woy Woy power couple therefore hire Mr Littlemore?).
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Therefore the likes of Ms Batten, her hubbie and the poor dears from ACA last night wouldn’t be the strongest of witnesses against Ms Neal and or Mr Della Bosca, if there was any legal action.
You can imagine the clever counsel asking them: “and how much were you paid? And were you coached; you know, did you go through what you were going to say with the reporter? Did you ‘refresh your memory’ and how? Who did you speak to? Oh, you spoke to your husband, fellow worker. So you concocted this story did you about my clients?” Lots of denials, but by the time a top flight QC or SC had finished with the ‘witnesses’ they might have trouble remembering their names.
So is this the thinking of the NSW ALP? That by hunkering down and refusing to talk to police, the Woy Woy power couple will ride this out and any legal action is bound to fail because of the aggressive activities of the media in polluting the evidence of potential witnesses?
Of course their overall reputations will suffer because of the story and their silence, but then it’s up to them to try and take action if they feel they’ve been traduced. That’s when they have to talk. Defamation remains a claim to be tested by them, if they want to go down that route.
They are still on some sort of vague promise to say something to the Federal (for Bel) and NSW (Della) Parliaments, but that will be under privilege and anything can be said about anybody by an MP and they can’t get away with it.
Is it a crime to be boorish, with an over-inflated ego? If that’s a yes, there are an awful lot of people who should be in the dock with Ms Neal and her hubbie.