Journalists and media organisations could face a number of trials over contempt charges for alleged reporting on Cardinal George Pell’s conviction, with the first trial tentatively scheduled for November.  Cardinal Pell was convicted by a jury in the Victorian County Court in December 2018 of child sexual abuse charges while the subject of a suppression order.  Cardinal Pell was acquitted by the High Court earlier this year.  The suppression orders were in place because of a pending second trial which did not proceed, allowing the outcome to be reported in February 2019.  But a number of media outlets allegedly published stories referring to the case by including information about the conviction of a high-profile Australian and referenced court orders.

Victoria’s Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Kerri Judd QC has charged 11 corporations and 19 individuals with contempt over the publications.  Charges have already been dropped against five individuals and one media outlet.  Barrister Matt Collins QC, who is representing all 30 accused it was likely multiple trials would be sought.  All would be heard by a judge alone.  Dr Collins said his clients were anxious for the case to be resolved.  If convicted, organisations face significant fines while individuals face up to five years in prison.  Dr Collins previously described the charges as “serious as it gets” said guilty findings could have a “chilling effect” on open justice.

Source: Compiled by APN from media reports

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