GILLARD - QUEEN MEETING UPDATE: Tess Lawrence writes to ABC about gagging

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Here is the text of a message sent today by Tess Lawrence to John Barron, from ABC News Radio,  who – moments before it was due to commence, apparently after speaking to the Prime Ministers’ Office – cancelled an interview with Tess about her sensational story on a meeting between Prime Minister Gillard and the Queen last week. Below this message is one of David Donovan's several emails to John Barron on the day the piece was pulled.

Tess is currently writing an open letter to the Prime Minister, which should be finished very soon. Keep watching this space.

Tess Lawrence: gagged by the ABC

EMAIL - Tess Lawrence to John Barron (ABC)

Thursday 5/5/11 - 11:03 am

G'day John,

Thank you so much for your email of May 2, 2011 to our Managing Editor David Donovan, that David has kindly forwarded to me.

And in which you say you ‘would be very interested to hear from Tess if there is a way to progress the story'.

I remain frightfully keen to do the interview and as you know it was locked in – after a discussion with your producer – for 11.15am of the same day.

So, I was indeed surprised when it was pulled.

If I was publishing the story again on this day, it would run in precisely the same way. And my informants still stand by their information.

Your producer had already briefed me to expect rigorous questioning, but I expect that in every interview – those I give – and those I conduct.

Except if I were interviewing David Attenborough, where I feel I would behave like a Justin B. fan and have to be restrained.

* I should say that on several occasions, ABC Current Affairs have run audio of several of my world exclusive radio interviews – and that I have worked on an international exclusive with the (then) 7.30 Report.

* Moreover, yesterday on Independent Australia, in the comments section on my article on 'Osama/Obama: What are you doing this Sunday Mr President? I posted several exclusives – and I have not yet checked the post times of US/The White House statements – but exclusive intel was posted on the site either first – or in some cases among the first – in Australia – and possibly the US.

I have longstanding – and shortstanding – contacts in all walks of life – and in the US (ongoing) story, some forged even before I flew on Air Force One.

Please let me know, as soon as you can, if you will reconsider your decision not to interview me.

I certainly look forward to hearing from you.

Kind Regards,

Tess Lawrence
Journalist Advocate
Specialist in Ethical Media Services & Crisis Management
Contributing editor-at-large, Independent Australia

Managing editor of Independent Australia, David Donovan

EMAIL - David Donovan to John Barron

Monday 2/5/11 - 12:24 pm


They would have denied it in strong terms – which I would have thought was quite understandable, given you can be assured that there is a witch-hunt going on in the PM’s office.

I would just like to say, I believe, as managing editor of our journal, that Tess Lawrence is accurately reporting what she has heard from reliable sources. I will also note that she is a professional journalist and broadcaster of long standing. She also lectures in ethical journalism. If this story was proven to be a fabrication, which again I do not for a second believe it is, her professional credibility is on the line. That in itself should be enough for you to further follow up this story.

I have to strongly question your reasoning – as given – for not interviewing our contributing editor, given this story has already broken – being reported, as it was, on yesterday’s ABC Insiders programme. Consequently, you wouldn’t be the ones breaking it in the mass media but merely investigating whether the story had any veracity—something any responsible news service should surely do, when so many people are obviously already talking about this revelation.

Indeed, it seems very unusual that you would not want to speak to Tess Lawrence and get her to speak about the issue directly. Given the nature of the meeting, three named sources will obviously be difficult to obtain, but this makes it no less of a story.

I can’t help thinking that this reflects very poorly on the ABC, especially following the gagging of the Chaser last week.

I have copied Tess Lawrence to this message for you to correspond with her directly about trying to resolve this “confirmation” issue.



David Donovan |  Managing Editor
Independent Australia
The journal of Australian identity and democracy
T:  +61 403 237 880  |  F:  +61 7 5526 8217
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