Unethical ABC Media Watch attacks child abuse victim and whistleblower

By | | comments |

ABC Media Watch last week launched an inaccurate, defamatory and unethical attack on IA contributor Fiona Barnett over her allegations about a VIP paedophile ring operating in Australia. Managing editor David Donovan comments, before publishing Fiona Barnett's letter to ABC managing director Mark Scott.

LAST MONDAY, Independent Australia was briefly mentioned on ABC Media Watch. It was to do with IA contributor Fiona Barnett's claims of a VIP paedophile ring operating in Australia being picked up by the mainstream media.

Media Watch were not at all happy Fiona Barnett had received any publicity.

Here's the bit concerning IA, from the transcript:

Ms Barnett’s allegations were accepted pretty much uncritically by a host of newspapers and websites, including:

The Sydney Morning Herald

The Daily Telegraph

The Hobart Mercury

Adelaide’s The Advertiser

And a raft of regional papers owned by Fairfax Media or by APN’s Australian Regional Media.

Her claims also made headlines in the Daily Mail and in the UK’s Independent newspaper, not to mention numerous radio and television stations.

We reckon they should have been treated with a lot more caution.

And a quick search on the internet confirms our doubts.

Here is Barnett writing last year about the CIA, paedophiles and Nazis:

The key to understanding organised paedophilia in Australia is the thousands of Nazi war criminals to whom our government knowingly offered asylum in this country.

— Independent Australia, 9th May, 2014

Note that Media Watch's transcript links to mainstream publications, but not to IA — not even including the name of the piece. This means readers are not able to click through to the original story or even easily find it through, say, a Google search. They are, therefore, less likely to be able to assess the full context, or the validity of this lone sentence sensationally plucked by Media Watch from the piece.

They also removed the two links that were embedded in the above sentence as published on IA, which you can read HERE and HERE. These detail Australia offering sanctuary to thousands of former Nazis, including war criminals, after World War II — an uncontestable historical fact.

The reference to the CIA was not supported by the quote Media Watch included whatsoever.

It is rather sobering to realise, given these actions from Media Watch, that it purports to be the authority in evaluating other media organisations with respect to their journalistic standards and ethics.

For the record, you can read Fiona's full article – which Media Watch sensationally misrepresented – on IA in its original form HERE.

The programme goes on to dismiss Fiona as lacking credibility, largely because a conspiracy theory website called Neon Nettle, which I understand republished a bowlderised version of one of Fiona's IA stories and alleged this was an example of "Ninth Circle" – or Satanic – ritual abuse. This, Media Watch misrepresented to discredit Fiona, despite her having no connection to that website whatsoever and, even though she had said some of her abuse did involve rituals, had never alleged that these rituals were Satanic in nature. Of course, the use of rituals by some child abusers has been well-documented in Australia and, indeed, around the world.

ABC Media Watch also cast doubt on Fiona's credibility because she had alleged certain of her attackers were high profile politicians and celebrities. Anyone who has been following events in the UK following the Jimmy Savile scandal and the politicians being named therefrom, would surely be disinclined to so easily dismiss allegations simply because of the status of the alleged perpetrators.

Media Watch further attempted to cast doubt on Fiona's credibility because, they said, two journalists had allegedly not followed through with a story about her claims in the past. Notably, however, Media Watch declined to include evidence Fiona provided of highly credible mainstreams journalists who are indeed following up on her claims and had provided her with favourable character references.

They used the same tactic with respect to the police, despite the fact Fiona had documented in exhaustive detail on IA the attempts certain police had made to bury any investigation into Fiona's claims and, indeed, to discredit and intimidate her. In any case, it stands to reason that any VIP paedophile ring would need to have key supporters within the police and the judiciary — and, in fact, this is precisely what Fiona is alleging. Anyone suggesting the establishment has not tried to close down child abuse whistleblowers in other cases has obviously not being paying attention to, for instance, the daily revelations from the Child Abuse Royal Commission and, for example, such people as whistleblowing NSW Detective Peter Fox.

Astonishingly, Media Watch provided Fiona with just 24 hours to provide evidence proving she was abused as a little girl decades ago. Despite attempting to assist them as much as possible and replying to their every email, Fiona declined this absurd request. She had already provided a large amount of evidence to IA, all supported by statutory declarations — meaning that if she is lying, she is breaking the Oaths Act and should be prosecuted. At the very least, the police should be investigating whether she is telling the truth or not.

Is Fiona lying, as Media Watch seem to be alleging? Well, I have literally spent days interrogating Fiona about her claims and, though I could be wrong, I do not believe she is fabricating her testimony. Unfortunately, IA is not in a position to fully investigate her allegations, which should be done by the proper authorities. Her claims are, however, supported by other testimony I have received from separate, independent sources. (Note: Media Watch never approached IA before going to air or afterwards.)

Fiona's claims are also supported child abuse support group SNAP, as reported on

Leader of child sex abuse advocacy group Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) Nicky Davis said Ms Barnett’s alleged experience was not unique.

“SNAP has heard from a number of survivors of very similar offences who have been raped, who have been tortured, whose perpetrators include the most senior people in Australia.”

SNAP says allegations have been ignored by the Royal Commission and government officials.

The group claims many survivors have spoken to police, the Royal Commission into Child Sex Abuse, politicians and government officials and had produced “considerable” evidence.

“There are a large number who want to speak out,” Ms Davis told

“These are some of the worst crime [sic] committed by the most powerful against the most vulnerable.”

Despite Media Watch's arrogant dismissal and outright defamation of Fiona Barnett, I understand there will be more revelations from other victims in the near future.

If Media Watch had even slightest sense of decency or the faintest notion of ethics – that is, if they cared at all about preventing further harm to children and victims – they would not be so quick to dismiss testimony from child abuse victims who, as they should well know, routinely battle against the system to have their claims heard, and suffer appalling suicide and self-harm statistics as a result.

The following is Fiona's letter to ABC managing director Mark Scott, which has been copied to ABC Media Watch. Neither Mark Scott nor Media Watch have provided a response at time of publication, despite IA asking them again this morning. The letter further details the shameful standards shown by ABC Media Watch in relation to this matter of grave public importance. One can only wonder why they are so willing to traduce their own reputation in an attempt to soil Fiona's.

You can find all of Fiona Barnett's stories on IA HERE.


Mark Scott

Managing Director of the ABC

GPO Box 9994

Sydney NSW 2001

Fax: 8333 5344

5 November 2015

Dear Mr Scott,

I refer to the email I received from ABC Media Watch on 4/11/2015. Sally Virgoe emailed me in response to one of the many complaints Media Watch received after Episode 40 aired on 2/11/2015. In her email, Ms Virgoe asks:

…where we quote from Neon Nettle and that quote links your experiences to the Ninth Circle Satanic Child Sacrifice Cult… Can you clarify if you believe your experiences are part of the Cult, or not?... we will put a note on our transcript if need be but your clarification is required.

Ms Virgoe already knew the answer to this question before she initially contacted me. In her first email to me, dated 29/10/2015, Ms Virgoe admitted she had already read my 2014 disclaimer concerning the Neon Nettle article:

You’ve stated on Independent Australia that a distorted version of your testimony went viral, with a link through to the story that contains the account above. This is that story

This proves that Media Watch intentionally published a factual error. Media Watch wrongly associated me with a "child sacrifice cult" referred to as the "Ninth Circle". At no stage have I identified the "Ninth Circle" as being responsible for my child abuse.

A further concern is Media Watch’s inclusion of a 23/10/2015 press release provided by Operation Attest. In this, the Federal Police say they thoroughly investigated my claims and found no evidence to support them. This press release content contradicts the correspondence Operation Attest provided me and which I gave to all media outlets that attended my Sydney Press Conference, and which SNAP provided Media Watch on 29/10/2015. In their correspondence to me, Operation Attest told me that they prematurely closed my case because all of the perpetrators I named were dead. Two former prime ministers that I named to Operation Attest are very much alive. Why did Media Watch not investigate and report on the obvious discrepancy between the Federal Police documents?

ABC Media Watch concluded:

'…when we asked her to back up some of her claims, she was unwilling or unable to do so.'

I responded to every email Media Watch sent me. The second email (dated 30/10/2015) from Sally Virgoe was aggressive, inappropriate, and offensive. This email effectively asked me to prove that I was a victim of child abuse. It asked me to provide my personal medical and other files and to do so within 24 hours. I declined to provide my personal medical files. In my final response to Media Watch, I stated that this level of inquiry into my complex case was outside the scope of ABC Media Watch.

ABC Media Watch omitted all evidence provided to them in support of my claims. Media Watch excluded the official response to their inquiries from SNAP. They excluded the favourable character references they obtained from journalists who did conduct in-depth interviews with me and investigations of my story and evidence.

Media Watch told SNAP they could not locate the ABC TV footage of my 22/10/2015 Sydney Press Conference. Consequently, I provided Media Watch with viewing access to Channel 9’s TV footage. Please explain how Media Watch intended to critique my Press Coverage when they did not have access to the footage? Reliable sources inform me that my story did not even appear on the Media Watch brief for Episode 40.

Experienced and respected journalists have expressed to me their disgust with Media Watch’s coverage of my Press Conference.

One journalist wrote to me the following:

Media Watch did the very thing that it accused the rest of the media of doing – not researching your allegations. Instead because your claims are outrageous they tried to discredit you on that basis alone. But given the outrageous accusations that have proven to be true in recent years eg, Rolf Harris, Jimmy Savile, pedophiles in the highest levels of UK government etc, it’s naïve and ignorant to rule things out purely on that basis.

Episode 40 of Media Watch did not focus on critiquing the media’s coverage of my Sydney Press Conference. Instead, it embarked upon a character assassination of me. Media Watch determined to discredit the witness testimony of a victim of the most severe category of child abuse.

As I stated in the Sydney Press Conference that SNAP asked me to attend, my going public about my experiences of Australia’s VIP pedophile network was never about me. I agreed to do that Press Conference because no other Australian child abuse victim previously had the capacity to do so. My primary motivation for fulfilling that request was to provide a voice for those victims who are too fragile, disabled – or dead – to speak for themselves.

When Media Watch sarcastically mocked and vilified me, they were in fact attacking the many thousands of Australian victims of crime whose lives have been destroyed by predators of the basest kind. Those victims see Media Watch’s antics as a blatant attempt to silence them. They liken the ABC to the BBC who notoriously supported rampant VIP paedophiles, including Jimmy Saville.

In my vast experience, the only people who devote time and effort to criticising and discrediting child abuse victims are those with a vested interest in silencing child abuse victims. ABC Media Watch’s handling of my witness testimony effectively serves to deter other victims from coming forward and reporting their own experiences. Was this ABC Media Watch’s intention?

Mr Scott, it is going to take much more than a note on Media Watch’s transcript to reverse the damage Episode 40 has done to me and to the public’s perception of child abuse witness testimony. I insist that my entire statement be read on Media Watch’s Episode 41 next week — with a full apology; otherwise I will be forced to take further action due to the damage Episode 40 has done to my reputation.


Fiona Rae Barnett

Creative Commons Licence
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Australia License

Monthly Donation


Single Donation


Subscribe to IA for just $5.

Recent articles by David Donovan
The Liberal Party’s Tony Abbott reset

Tony Abbott has emerged as a favourite to fill Jim Molan's Senate seat. Founder ...  
Despite legal proceedings, Dominique Grubisa thinks she's unstoppable

As the ACCC cracks down on Dominique Grubisa for alleged breach of Australian ...  
AUDIO EXCLUSIVE: Peter 'PeDon' Dutton speaks to IA

Michelle Pini spoke to Federal Opposition Leader, former Queensland drug cop and ...  
Join the conversation
comments powered by Disqus

Support IAIndependent Australia

Subscribe to IA and investigate Australia today.

Close Subscribe Donate