Putting the underage girl-of-the-moment involved in the tawdry AFL scandal to air last night was a ratings success for 60 Minutes — 1.14 million viewers tuned in for Liz Hayes’ tell-all chat. But did Channel Nine break the law in doing what other media outlets haven’t — naming and revealing her identity?

Probably not says Ian McGill, a partner at Allens Arthur Robinson. He told Crikey today publication of the girl’s name and identity would only contravene any law if she was involved in a current criminal proceeding. The girl, he says, could consent to the revelation of her identity because she is over 16.

But the legalities could be more complex than that. Another media lawyer who preferred not to be named told Crikey an application for an intervention order may have been lodged against the teen in the Children’s Court. Unless the application has now been rejected, the lawyer noted, the girl’s identity must be protected by media outlets under the Children, Youth and Families Act 2005 (Vic).

It’s also unclear whether identification of the girl is also prohibited by a current suppression order, as The Age suggests todayCrikey understands an order was made by the Federal Court in late December — but is no longer applicable because it was vacated after a settlement meeting between the teen and the AFL earlier this year. Complicating matters, Crikey also heard from a legal source there may be restrictions on identifying the teen in an unrelated matter.

Peter Fray

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