At the centre of News Ltd’s Pauline Hanson photo scandal is the Sydney paparazzo Jamie Fawcett.
He acted as the go-between — and received a $15,000 fee — for bringing the dodgy photographs to Neil Breen, editor of Sydney’s Sunday Telegraph.
Breen then circulated the pictures around the group’s Sunday tabloids in Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth in what became a national circulation drive.
During the week Fawcett snaffled a “spotter’s fee” from Channel Seven’s Today Tonight for facilitating an interview with ex-army officer Jack Johnson who claims he took the Hanson pictures in 1975.
Fawcett, who was the subject of an unusually sympathetic Australian Story on ABC TV last year, is a repeat offender.
Ten years ago he persuaded Fairfax’s Sun-Herald that he had obtained photographs of NSW police trainee Kim Hollingsworth dressed in a s-xy police uniform doing a strip.
Then editor Alan Revell and deputy editor Peter Lynch, both asylum seekers from Fleet Street, went into org-smic overdrive at the prospect of publishing the photographs of Hollingsworth who was waging a high-profile court battle to rescue her police career after being outed as a former prost-tute and stripper.
Despite clear warnings from news room staffers, including senior reporter Candace Sutton, that the Hollingsworth pictures were “suspect”, they appeared in the first edition of The Sun-Herald.
Hollingsworth saw the paper, phoned Revell and threatened to sue on the grounds that the pictures were not of her. Revell relented and pulled the photographs from all later editions.
This widely known story should have made Fawcett persona non grata. Instead, his career has prospered in line with the guttering down of the Sydney media.
Last month former Test cricketer Shane Warne filed a complaint with Victorian police against Fawcett alleging that he and his family were being harassed. Police confirmed a complaint had been lodged while Fawcett, who has been involved in costly legal wrangles with Nicole Kidman, denied the cricketer’s claims.
Meanwhile, Sunday Telegraph executives have instructed staff not to discuss the Hanson photo scandal. If they are asked by colleagues from other sections of the metropolitan media, they are to reply that the pictures are genuine.
This is a threadbare and pathetic effort to save the controversial editorship of Breen. To have accepted the word of Fawcett is not a good look even at News Ltd.