Craig Thomson's kangaroo court

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Craig Thomson has been only convicted in the kangaroo court of mainstream media and conservative politics — he is entitled to the presumption of innocence. Peter Wicks comments.

Craig Thomson has been cruelly pre-judged by the Australian mass media.

I was thinking today how lucky we are to live in a country like Australia.

Australia is not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but there are some things we can always rely on — well, nearly always. The presumption of innocence until proven guilty, for example; and at the end of the process of determining guilt or innocence, a punishment is only handed down upon guilt being found beyond reasonable doubt.

Some of you may have seen my posts last week on the serious questions that remain unanswered relating to the HSU saga; if not, here are links to part one and part two. It is fair to say that I have received all types of correspondence, as has Independent Australia, since publishing these posts. However, it is interesting to note that not one person has disputed any of the facts mentioned in the posts — not one.

I did, however, want to take the opportunity to clear up some misconceptions and clarify a few points.

Firstly, I did approach some main stream media before doing the story myself. I won’t name any of the media outlets — however I will say, in their defence, that one of their major issues was time. My primary source had work commitments and it was unlikely that a story – that in part relied on access to that informant – was going to be able to be put together for broadcast or publication before Craig Thomson’s speech tomorrow. In addition to that, the person in question was not entirely comfortable fronting the media — given their own particular circumstances.

There are, however, those who have said that simply because the story did not come from a mainstream media source, then therefore it was unreliable. In fact, those who followed the links in the story would notice they led to numerous official documents, as well as mainstream media sources. So, my posts are as credible as those sources.

As I said, the facts presented in our stories do not appear to be in dispute. So, why aren’t they being reported in the mainstream media?

There are those who say that bloggers, and independent media publications like Independent Australia, do not have the accountability of those in the mainstream media and do not have as much to risk. To this argument, I would say: “What utter crap”.

The notion that somebody would rather take on a mainstream journalist or columnist, who has the backing of, say, News Ltd or Fairfax legal teams and their employers’ deep pockets, quicker than they would run the risk of taking on me, with my pocketful of change, or Independent Australia, in a defamation suit is, quite obviously, an insult to our intelligence.

On this note, both I and Independent Australia have received all kinds of information and correspondence relating to this story since its publication. Not everything has been published.

Much of the information we received was both relevant, and also quite explosive in some cases. However, we chose not to publish information that could not be verified, or information that we considered private, such as emails. On the contrary to not being credible — I would regard our approach as more credible and ethical then the standard practices we see in much of the mainstream media. We did our due diligence — and then some.

On a different topic, what has completely humbled me is the number of messages, tweets, comments and feedback that we both have received from members of the Health Services Union. Every single one of these has been a message of support — and happiness that some previously unrevealed truths were starting to emerge.

We had all seen and heard Kathy Jackson telling her side of the story constantly for the last couple of months. I had also noticed the mysteriously sudden change of heart towards union members by both right-wing commentators and Liberal politicians — and their solemn words of concern for the Union’s well-being. It was really was quite touching…

Then after receiving all the correspondence from members of the HSU, a thought occurred to me.

That thought was:
“Never in my living memory has a union’s membership been so well spoken for, while ultimately nobody gets to hear what that membership thinks — or even what it wants heard.”
Plenty of people are speaking for them, but nobody it appears, is interested in using their words. How frustrating that must be…

That is one of the true tragedies in this whole sordid affair. After all, it is their money we are all talking about.

The other main misconception I want to address is that I am out to prove Craig Thomson’s innocence.

This has never been my intention, I am not in possession of all the facts in this case — and do not claim to know all there is to know. It would be irresponsible of me to declare Thomson innocent. However, it is just as irresponsible for anybody without ALL the facts to declare his certain guilt.

If Craig does happen to be innocent, he must feel a little like Lindy Chamberlain must have felt all those years ago. Judged guilty by the press and public for years, only to be found innocent after years of horrendous abuse and suffering — even jail, in Lindy’s case.

If there is one thing worth believing in, it is the concept of innocent until proven guilty. I expectantly await Craig’s speech on Monday and will listen to what he says with an open mind. My only hope is that the rest of the nation does the same.

You may remember, at the start of this post I mentioned “reasonable doubt”.

In my mind, after researching the things I have published in my last two posts. I believe that there is ample evidence to suggest prima facie that there reasonable doubt about Craig Thomson’s guilt. Whether he is guilty or innocent will ultimately be determined by the courts, not politicians or the mainstream media — neither of which are in full possession of the facts, as we have shown.

I just hope that the debate after Monday can be kept civil.

After all, there is a family, and thousands of union members, whose heart breaks a little more each day as this debate rages like a wildfire out of control — and becomes more about character assassination and the desperate desire for political power, rather than any honest seeking of the truth.

(This has also been published, in a slightly different form, on WIXXYLEAKS. Follow Peter Wicks on Twitter.)

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