by Scott Balson, 6th January 2000
On the 4th January 2000 I faxed a press release to the media stating in part, "On the 31st July last year I was singled out and arrested on the instructions of the Attorney General, Matt Foley. The allegation that I named a Queensland Labor MP facing fifty child sex charges was referred to the Office of Crown Law after a journalist at The Courier-Mail made a written complaint to the DPP on the paper's letterhead. A copy of this Courier-Mail document has been subpoenaed by my lawyers from Crown Law and is in my possession.
On the 18th August 1999 The Courier-Mail's Matthew Franklin wrote, under the heading, "One Nation leader hits out at paper over reports":
"We (The Courier-Mail) are not party to any action against Scott Balson." The Courier-Mail called Bill Feldman's claims "false and irrational" in an editorial over this issue in the same paper."
Chris Griffith and Tony Kleim
Director of Public Prosecutions Royce Miller, QC, yesterday rejected a claim by a former One Nation webmaster that The Courier-Mail was responsible for hin facing court.
Charles Scott Balson, 45 (sic - I am 44), of Atkinson drive, Karana Downs, appeared in the Ipswich Magistrates Court on a charge of revealing the name of a defendant in a sexual offences court case.
The Ipswich Internet provider (sic - I never have been an "Internet provider") pleaded not guilty to a charge of naming a politician - who is facing almost 50 child-sex charges - on his web page on July 27 last year.
Under Queensland law, the name of a person charged with sex offences cannot be published unless he or she is committed for trial.
In a media statement issued before his appearance, Mr Balson said The Courier-Mail had made a written complaint to Mr Miller's office alleging Mr Balson had named on his webiste an MP who was facing court on sex charges.
On July 27 last year, The Courier-Mail's legal affairs reporter Sue Monk faxed Mr Miller four questions about the alleged breach.
"The allegation that named a .... MP facing fifty child-sex charges was referred to the Office of Crown Law after a journalist made a written complaint to the DPP on the paper's letterhead," Mr Balson said.
But yesterday Mr Miller said he had only received a normal journalistic inquiry from The Courier-Mail, not a complaint. He said the newspaper's fax was not responsible for Mr Balson being charged.
"In ordinary circumstances, I require the media to fax all requests for information in writing for purposes of accuracy," Mr Miller said.
Last night, the MPs solicitor Terry O'Gorman said he, not The Courier-Mail, initiated the action against Mr Balson.
Mr O'Gorman said that on July 28, a female journalist had raised Mr Balson's alleged transgression in a doorstop interview on his way to court.
She had asked him "what are you going to do about it?"
Mr O'Gorman said other journalists in the media scrum were aware of the issue with the MPs defence barrister, Kelly Macgroarty, who raised the matter in court.
About thirty minutes later, he faxed Attorney-General Matt Foley saying he wanted action taken.
"Foley faxed me later in the day saying the matter had been referred to the DPP."
Mr Balson was yesterday released on bail and remanded to appear for summary trial on March 8.
The facts of this case, outlined below, refute the claims made above.
To ensure that there can be absolutely no misunderstanding I am attaching scanned copies of documents which have been provided to me by police (in their evidence against me) and by Crown Law.
Fact 1: David Bullock from the DPP told my lawyer Paul McCowan of Gilshenan and Luton on 28th July 1999 that the complainant was quote "The Courier-Mail". McCowan will confirm this fact.
Fact 2: This scanned document from the Office of Crown Law gained under subpoenae by Gilshenan and Luton spells out the complainant - Sue Monk from The Courier-Mail. Page one. Page two.
Fact 3: Sue Monk wrote to Miller of the DPP on 27th July 1999 O'Gorman complained on 28th July 1999
Fact 4: The police conducted a search on The Courier-Mail to gain the evidence. This scan is a statement from Ann Vogler confirming that fact. (The document was in the police evidence). This document was faxed to Chris Griffith.
Fact 5: extract from the transcript of the court
hearing before O'Gorman, at his own admission, lodged
Mr Bullock (for the DPP): Yes, I think the Supreme Court could do it, and also it's an offence under - a possible offence under the Act. And the Attorney-General has asked Mr Miller QC, the director, to look into the matter. (ie responding directly to the written complaint by Sue Monk of The Courier-Mail)
Fact 6: The DPP's David Bullock under oath - 8th March 2000, Ipswich Magistrates Court:
Balson: Is it true that you told my lawyer, Paul McCowan, on the 28th July last year that The Courier-Mail had originated the complaint (against Balson)?"
Bullock: That's what Mr... yes, that's what Mr Miller had told me but I stress that's hearsay and I don't know what the source of Mr Miller's information is.
Balson: So that is a fact?
Bullock: Well that's what I told him what Mr Miller told me.
Balson: Okay. And that came from the person in charge of the DPP?
Balson: That The Courier-Mail had laid the complaint?
Bullock: Yes. They'd made a complaint.
Balson: Okay. Thank you Your Honour, I wanted to clarify that.
Last night I had a lengthy discussion with Chris Griffith faxing him a copy of Vogler's statement and the fax discovered by the police during their search at the paper.
You will note in The Courier-Mail's article that they make no reference to Sue Monk's letter to the DPP being sent on 27th July - although you can assess that O'Gorman made a secondary complaint the following day after being "informed" of the alleged breach by the media.
6th January 2000
Your article "Webmaster in court over naming of accused" classically presents your side of the argument that you were not the primary complainant in my case currently before the courts. The article completely omits the related statements I made to Griffith over the phone.
In the best interest of credible reporting perhaps you may relay these to your readers by way of my letter:
The DPP's David Bullock informed my lawyers on 28th July 1998 that "The Courier-Mail was the complainant". A fact either party will confirm.
Sue Monk's letter was faxed att Royce Miller of the DPP on the 27th July - O'Gorman claims to have laid a complaint the next day with the Attorney-General.
The police conducted a search of The Courier-Mail on 30th July and obtained a copy of the alleged offending document which named the MP facing nearly 50 child sex charges. (Statement by Police Officer Anne Vogler). No search was ever made of the offices of O'Gorman.
The office of Crown Law (copy of letter attached) in response to my lawyer's subpoena supplied the following documents related to my arrest:
Finally, the killer punch: Mr Bullock (for the DPP): Yes, I think the Supreme Court could do it, and also it's an offence under - a possible offence under the Act. And the Attorney-General has asked Mr Miller QC, the director, to look into the matter. (ie responding directly to the written complaint by Sue Monk of The Courier-Mail in court on 28th July before Terry O'Gorman had even contacted the Attorney-General)
Nowhere in the police evidence is reference made to Terry O'Gorman - who you claim was the complainant. Several references are made to The Courier-Mail including a copy of the document retrieved by Vogler during the search conducted on your offices.
Based on the facts presented here I cannot support your finding that The Courier-Mail was not the complainant in this case.
7th January 2000
I've read you page today (Thurs). I'm more than comfortable with the explanation we ran this morning. What happened is documented in letters from O'Gorman to Foley & visa versa on the 28th. I suggest you seek these.
(Note the documents to which Griffith refers were only compiled after Bullock's statement in court - see above)