It’s Gough’s day …

Defamation watch. Honi Soit, the University of Sydney student rag, has received a legal letter from subject of one of its stories demanding the paper pull an article off its website. This comes after the university asked the Sydney Uni SRC to force Honi Soit to redact the man’s name and picture from the article.

The story carried allegations that the university had failed to protect a student who says nude photos of her were taken and shared without her knowledge. Honi Soit named the alleged perpetrator and published his picture online. Last last week, the publication received a legal letter from the man’s lawyers demanding the article be removed in its entirety. Honi Soit’s editors haven’t yet done so, and instead seem to be digging down on their position. Crikey understands they’re in discussions with the SRC to reinstate the man’s name and photo on the original story.

The saga was widely picked up by the media, including by News.com.au, whose journalist tracked down and interviewed the alleged victim. Most media outlets (Crikey included) decided against naming the man at the centre of the story, but the student press was more gung-ho. After Honi Soit was forced to redact its story, UTS student rag Vertigo published a piece on the incident naming the alleged perpetrator in solidarity. Crikey understands Vertigo got a legal letter too, but also has not removed the story.

Meanwhile, Andrew Bolt’s defamation case continues. As Crikey wrote on Monday, the columnist is being sued for calling lawyer David Barrow a “vexatious litigant”, among other things, in a letter to the Press Council. Crikey understands, through Barrow’s prolific blogging, that Bolt turned up for day one and two of proceedings, accompanied, initially, by his wife. Barrow has already written three posts on the two days of proceedings. “Herald Sun is mostly old media, buying ink by the barrel. Well, I buy bandwidth by the cent. So bring ’em on,” he told Crikey. The commencement of the trial was covered briefly on page 6 of Tuesday’s Herald Sun, and, indeed, Barrow’s word count far exceeds that of the newspaper. The blog was cited by News Corp as a reason against the parties being pushed into mediation on Monday, but Barrow argues he should be allowed to write about things that have happened in open court. — Myriam Robin

Barbara Walters resurrected. You know where Australian TV executives learn their cynicism from? Their American peers, who remain past masters of saying one thing and doing another.

And so it is with the ABC Network in America and its goto girl, Barbara Walters. A year ago, ABC indicated that Barbara Walters’ annual interview special 10 Most Fascinating People of the Year would be retired as Barbara was (sort of, but not really) retiring. Then overnight, guess what, it’s back. They’ve found some fascinating people for Babs to chat to. And the first is US TV star, Neil Patrick Harris (from How I Met Your Mother on CBS and more), as well as Chelsea Handler, Scarlett Johansson and Oprah. The idea to revive the ratingsfiller program would have nothing to do with the fact that Neil Patrick Harris will host the 2015 Oscars, which ABC would broadcast, would it? Nah.

“I was absolutely delighted when ABC approached me to do another year of ‘10 Most Fascinating People’,” Walters said in today’s announcement. “I know we said last year was our last, but there are just too many fascinating people out there … and you never pass up the opportunity to interview Oprah, Neil, Chelsea, or Scarlett.” Barbara Walters was quoted in a statement from ABC. You can almost hear the old gal’s bones purr with pleasure as she girds herself for battle with the camera. She is special and the camera loves her.

In “ending” the program last year, ABC said that “for Barbara Walters’ final installment of the program, she had chosen Hillary Clinton as the Most Fascinating Person of 2013.” Clinton having been Walters’ No. 1 pick when The 10 Most Fascinating People Of The Year special premiered in 1993. In last year’s interview, Clinton launched her “I Haven’t Made Up My Mind Yet” 2016 presidential campaign. So will a local network finally have a go at making a local version? They have toyed with the idea, but there has always been a shortage of “fascinating” people in Australia on a par with Clinton or Oprah. And who would do it now that Ray Martin (our Barbara Walters) is no longer in TV full time? — Glenn Dyer

What you missed when Whitlam died. Yesterday the Australian Federal Police told wire service AAP it had dropped its war crimes investigation into the deaths of the Balibo Five. After almost 40 years, the trail had apparently gone cold. “The AFP has exhausted all inquiries in relation to this matter and will be taking no further action,” the AFP said. The families of the murdered journalists have said they will fight the decision. The decision to drop the case has also been criticised by professor of international law, Ben Saul, who told The Guardian that the AFP needed to explain their reasons for not going ahead with the investigation. “Certainly the NSW coroner felt there was a sufficient legal basis to commence a prosecution,” he said. “So it’s really incumbent on the federal police to release their legal advice to explain why it is they think it’s not possible and why they take a different view to senior lawyers in that coronial inquiry.” The AFP has been criticised in the past for not vigorously pursuing the case, including by the MEAA, who in a statement last week criticised the police for not engaging with Indonesian authorities in their investigation.

Peter Fray

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