When Judge Peter Kidd sentenced Cardinal George Pell last week, it was broadcast live on radio and television. It was a stark contrast to the preceding trial, which was subject to a suppression order that prevented any coverage of the proceedings.
Today on Media Files we look at the suppression order that prevented the Australian media reporting the case, even when the verdict was widely known and was being circulated on social media and on the front pages of newspapers around the world.
On the day of the Pell sentence the University of Melbourne’s Centre for Advancing Journalism brought together several experts with wide-ranging experiences of suppression orders to discuss how they affect the public’s right to know and whether the laws should be reformed.
The panellists are:
Associate Professor Jason Bosland, Co-Director of the Centre for Media and Communications Law at Melbourne Law School, where he teaches media and communications law. His primary research interests lie in media law, including defamation and privacy, open justice and the media, contempt of court and freedom of speech.
Melissa Davey, Melbourne bureau chief for The Guardian. She is an experienced news journalist who previously worked as a reporter for Fairfax newspapers, including The Sydney Morning Herald and the Sun Herald. She sat through every day of the George Pell trial.
Lucie Morris-Marr, a reporter who, like Melissa, sat through the entire Pell proceedings. She worked at the Daily Mail, London, Marie Claire Australia and the Herald Sun in Melbourne before covering the Pell trial for the New Daily. She is the author of a book on Pell entitled Fallen: The inside story of the secret trial and conviction of Cardinal George Pell.
Frank Vincent AO QC, who served 16 years as a judge of the Supreme Court of Victoria followed by a further eight years as a judge of the Court of Appeal. He was Deputy Chair and then Chair of the Victorian Adult Parole Board, a position he occupied for 17 years. In 2017 he conducted a review of court suppression orders and the Open Courts Act 2013.
The forum was chaired by Dr Denis Muller of the Centre for Advancing Journalism at the University of Melbourne.