Jeremy Roberts. The Australian. Canberra, A.C.T.:Aug15, 2006. p. 4
A JUDGE will decide today whether to throw out the state's firstcriminal
defamation trial in 46 years after the defendants argued they had no caseto
answer because the "victims" had never publicly denied they werepedophiles.
If South Australian District Court judge Marie Shaw decides the ninecharges
against Wendy Utting, Barry Standfield and a third defendant, CraigRatcliff,
stand, she must then decide whether the case will be divided into two, withMr
Ratcliff facing a separate trial. Mr Ratcliff in March last year allegedto
journalists that a Labor MP was a pedophile and had been video-taped atan
inner- Adelaide gay beat engaged in illegal sexual conduct with a teenageboy.
The controversy took a surreal turn when then parliamentary speakerPeter
Lewis, a self-styled anti-corruption campaigner and his two volunteerstaff, Ms
Utting and Mr Standfield, repeated the claims and, along with MrRatcliff,
suggested two gay men who also knew about the Labor MP had beenmurdered.
At the height of the controversy a fax was sent to numerous mediaorganisations
naming the Labor MP and three others -- two serving police officers anda
former state Liberal politician -- as pedophiles.
In five days of pre-trial argument, Ms Utting's lawyer, George Manciniargued
his client had "no case to answer" because none of the victims had everdenied
the claims to the court.
"There is no evidence by way of declaration of witness statementsabout
falsity," Mr Mancini said. He argued that it was not enough for theclaims
against the men to be "inherently untrue or despicable". He said the Crownmust
present evidence, like a denial, that the original claims were false.
Judge Shaw said that even judicial officers were "not immune from whatsome
people call despicable acts".
A police investigation into the claims turned into evidence- gathering forwhat
became nine charges of criminal defamation against the threedefendants.
The Rann Government kept silent but warned media organisations theyrisked
criminal defamation charges if anyone was named. The four men were notnamed in