Among the variously salacious, considered and tangential coverage of James Packer’s resignation from Crown for mental health reasons, there was one piece so tawdry that it rankled even veteran paparrazo Jamie Fawcett.
As Packer’s mother Roslyn was preparing to fly out of Sydney airport to be with her son, she was followed by a camera, questioned and filmed as she was pushed in a Qantas wheelchair through the airport, with daughter Gretel at her side.
“I’m a paparazzi and I wouldn’t have gone there even if I had got the info,” Fawcett told Crikey. “When we first heard he was stepping down, people were running around trying to find out where he was, if he was in rehab. But when somebody reaches out and says ‘mental illness’, you back off.”
Save up to 50% on a year of Crikey
Choose what you pay, from $99.
Fawcett said that even though none of the Packer family had specifically asked for privacy, it should be obvious to the press that they should give the family a break.
“I’ve chased Packer a lot. I’ve photographed him with his girlfriends. I’ve been photographing Ros for over 30 years. But there’s a time to back off, and now’s the time,” he said.
Fawcett also questioned how the photographer knew the flight details, referencing revelations earlier this year that paparazzi had access to flight manifestos in order to track down and photograph celebrities. A Qantas spokeswoman said in a statement: “The confidentiality and security of any passenger information is paramount. It’s a responsibility we and our suppliers take very seriously. If breaches are reported to us, we will immediately act upon them including referring them to the authorities.”
“Ros’s network is so tight, and she’s not a celebrity. These aren’t people who are craving publicity. No one’s asking for privacy, but come on,” Fawcett said.
Daily Mail Australia has today published pictures of Roslyn Packer arriving in Los Angeles, again in a wheelchair.
Yesterday, Marc Bryant, program manager for Everymind, which manages the Mindframe initiative, told Crikey that the media should be wary of how they approach family and carers in cases like the Packers’, especially after the initial story has been covered.
“We hope the media, like they have when they’ve covered other well known figures, there’s a time when it’s time to turn the media lens away to allow them time to recover, both for the figure and their friends and carers,” he said.
Nine, which published the video yesterday afternoon, did not respond to Crikey’s request for comment before deadline.