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Taking a Step Towards Reinstating the Presumption of Innocence

I was trending all day on X after media articles attacking me for daring to include Bruce Lehrmann in a conference appeared.


Whatever happened to the presumption of innocence in Australia? Why is it ok for the media to broadcast damaging unproven allegations as fact?

Look at the latest mud slung at Bruce Lehrmann last week, when a disgruntled ex-producer from Channel 7, Taylor Auerbach, used court privilege to take aim at his former employers—inserting himself into Mr. Lehrmann’s defamation trial to gain maximum publicity.

Mr. Lehrmann is taking action against Channel 10 for their decision to broadcast Brittany Higgins’ rape allegation. Things are currently not looking good for 10, which has been exposed as deliberately overlooking flaws in Ms. Higgins’ story in their rush to hit the news with this huge story, as well as advising its TV presenter Lisa Wilkinson that it was ok for her to give the Logie speech which delayed the criminal trial.

It looks like they could be facing a large damages payout to Mr. Lehrmann, and speculation in legal circles is that they chose to use Mr. Auerbach to inflict maximum reputational damage on Mr. Lehrmann, to try to reduce their costs.

Mind you, this might backfire on 10. Mr. Auerbach’s evidence includes material damaging to Ms. Higgins which had previously been precluded from the criminal trial.

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Plus, it now looks like Mr. Auerbach may face criminal charges after admitting in court that he tried to sell nude photos to newspapers of the former model Kate Fischer (now known as Tziporah Malkah).

But still, we see Mr. Auerbach’s inflammatory allegations spread across the country’s media about Mr. Lehrmann paying thousands for Thai massages and cocaine, despite Channel 7 denying any such payments were made.

Former Seven network Spotlight producer Taylor Auerbach departs the Federal Court of Australia in Sydney, on April 5, 2024. (AAP Image/Bianca De Marchi)
Former Seven network Spotlight producer Taylor Auerbach departs the Federal Court of Australia in Sydney, on April 5, 2024. (AAP Image/Bianca De Marchi)

Naturally, hardly any media reports mentioned the defamation Judge Michael Lee’s sceptical comments about Mr. Auerbach’s evidence.

“Don’t put him up as some sort of noble public interested person who was coming along to assist His Majesty’s justices,” Mr. Lee warned.

“He’s a man who wanted to make a range of allegations against people under absolute privilege … one could rationally form a view that this is a man who desperately wanted to do as much damage to his previous employer as he could conceivably do.”

Where was the presumption of innocence for Bruce Lehrmann in the face of this latest media onslaught?

The very notion of Mr. Lehrmann’s innocence is enough to provoke outrage in sectors of our community.

Bringing Justice Back

It just happened that this week, we announced that Mr. Lehrmann would be speaking at a Sydney conference on Restoring the Presumption of Innocence.

The conference is sponsored by Mothers of Sons—an organisation I’m proud to have helped get started, which supports mothers keen to expose the injustice their sons have faced in our criminal and family law systems.

I was trending all day on X (formerly Twitter) on April 8 after media articles attacking me for daring to include Mr. Lehrmann in such a conference appeared.

It says a great deal about our current culture that even discussing this topic provokes such outrage.

We have had years now of court cases and inquiries revealing how thoroughly Mr. Lehrmann’s presumption of innocence was trashed by the media, by the public prosecutor, and by most of the key players in this whole saga. And yet he is not allowed to speak on the topic, even as part of a serious, professional conference.

A statue of Themis, the Greek God of Justice stands outside the Supreme Court in Brisbane, Australia, on Oct. 20, 2016. (AAP Image/Dave Hunt)
A statue of Themis, the Greek God of Justice stands outside the Supreme Court in Brisbane, Australia, on Oct. 20, 2016. (AAP Image/Dave Hunt)

The Sydney conference is being hosted by Australians for Science and Freedom (ASF). This is an organisation that was founded by concerned doctors, lawyers, and academics who objected to the government’s response to the pandemic.

You may have heard interviews with one of the ASF founders, the brave and brilliant economist Gigi Foster, a professor at the University of New South Wales, who was out in the media from the start of COVID-19 arguing for a cost-benefit analysis of lockdowns and calling out the appalling censorship on critical scientific and medical issues.

The current broader goals now being embraced by ASF include encouraging “better institutions that embed respect for freedom and scientific approaches for society’s problems.”

A justice system based on the principle of the presumption of innocence is a no-brainer—hence ASF has stepped up to make this happen.

The time seemed right to encourage proper public discussion of this vital issue.

Right now, 400 current sexual assault cases are being audited by New South Wales (NSW) public prosecutors to determine whether, as six judges have claimed, such cases are being pushed through to trial with insufficient evidence.

ASF decided it made sense to seize the moment and bring together some of the real experts to tell the story of what is going on here. And to talk about what’s needed to achieve a fair system.

This is a first. The very first time anyone has challenged the groupthink muzzling our cultural dialogue to expose the truth about what counts as justice in Australia.

The conference will be held in Rushcutters Bay in Sydney on June 1, with the one-day event crammed with presentations by many of the brave souls who have long been speaking out about ongoing injustice in our courts. More details are available on the Australians for Science and Freedom website.
Speakers will include Professor Augusto Zimmermann, a Perth-based law professor and former Law Reform Commissioner who, in that role, fought a mighty battle warning about proposed domestic violence laws, which he rightly predicted would be used to destroy the lives of many innocent men.

There will be eminent lawyers including Chris Merritt, vice president of the Rule of Law Institute. We will also hear from Ian Jones, the father who fought for five years to have Sara Jane Parkinson, his son’s false accuser, sent to prison.

Experts on statistics will expose how data on rape cases is misrepresented to downplay false allegations, as well as outlining what international research and official statistics show about women’s role in domestic violence.

There’ll be a whistle-blower showing how key organisations providing domestic violence services are demonising male victims and ignoring female perpetrators.

I will be speaking about the fake rape crisis on our campuses and the shameful kangaroo courts, and a Mother of Sons representative will tell the story of her son’s wrongful imprisonment.

Bruce Lehrmann is only a tiny but valuable part of this story. The main idea of the conference is to let people across Australia know there’s a growing community of people keen to address the shameful capture of our justice system.

It will give heart to the many families dealing with unfair treatment in our courts to know their plight is being acknowledged.

Views expressed in this article are opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.

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