Article sent to Piers Akerman in response to his blog in the Daily Telegraph on the 6th October 2007 coming to Lindeberg's defence...

Dear Piers

I was appalled to read Greg Roberts article in The Australian (online) edition in which Kevin Lindeberg’s valiant campaign is denigrated because of my alleged anti-Semitic and extremist ways.

I am not even going to waste my time writing to Chris Mitchell, the editor of that paper, because he was the editor of The Courier-Mail when it ran similar allegations against me in 1999. Jeremy Jones was quoted at this time as were the names of the alleged anti-Semites whose thoughts I had apparently published in my online newspaper at some time. These same names were trotted out by Roberts in his article this week.

Firstly, here are some facts about the level of my communication with Greg Roberts over the article that appeared in The Australian this week.

1) He contacted me by email asking for my phone number while I was sitting in the international departure lounge in Perth on Tuesday (I am now in S Africa launching my latest book)

2) I responded stating that any questions must be put in an email (as I do not trust, with good reason, his reporting ethics).

3) He sent me a list of three questions. I responded to these questions as follows:

a.In response to his question as to why I maintained the shreddergate website I said because I supported Lindeberg’s fight against corruption in QLD (The first part of the first sentence of this lengthy response was published – the balance, which went on to explain my concerns with the complicity of The Courier-Mail (in particular) and senior politicians in the cover up was omitted.)

b.In response to the question as to whether I thought my page played an impactful role for Lindeberg’s cause I said NO

c.In respose to the question who was funding Lindeberg’s campaign I replied I HAVE NO IDEA.

That is the entire level of our exchange and it happened on Tuesday at about 5pm Sydney time. If you read Roberts’ article it states that I had contact with him days after this and at this time denied being an extremist – in other words some sort of follow-up was made by him with me in which he would have raised his allegations against me. This NEVER happened. I am in S Africa and have copies of all email exchanges with Mr Roberts. I have learnt not to talk to reporters on the phone and as I said before always demand email exchanges – with good reason. I recommend all your readers do it.

Getting back to the serious and defamatory allegation that I am an “extremist, right wing and anti-Semitic” I wish to place on record that this is totally untrue, without solid foundation and further that Mr Roberts knew this when he wrote the article. Otherwise why would he have said words to the effect that “Mr Balson denied being an extremist” when he knew he had never raised this with me?

The facts of the matter are as follows. From 1995 to 2000 I established and pioneered the first online daily newspaper in Australia. It was an accidental interest in archiving the news that became an idea and is now the pioneer of the format used by all online papers including The Daily Telegraph. My old paper is archived by and can be studied at the National Library of Australia’s Pandora Project. I have no deep dark secrets – nothing to fear – in fact I welcome scrutiny.

Anyone who takes a moment to study this paper will see that it carries an open and free flowing exchange of views and comments placed by numerous contributors many of whom I had no prior knowledge of. They discussed and argued over a wide range of issues – frozen in time. If anything anti-Semitic thoughts were quickly discredited by other participants and, as a result, the originator often changed his thinking and became more balanced. I cannot see how that can be cause for being labeled anti-Semitic. Stifling debate is the best way to ferment extremism – allowing debate removes extremism. In fact if you go through the posts on the various News Ltd blogs you are sure to find views expressed which are not those of the paper – but does that make those papers guilty by association? Surely having lunch with a friend of mine who is gay this week does not make me gay? If this strange methodology used by The Courier-Mail against me in my paper was true then you could fill a hundred papers with articles tagging your own mastheads with a wide range of colourful tags an labels – including, may I dare say, anti-Semitic.

This tag was first attached to me by The Courier-Mail (then under the editorial leadership of Chris Mitchell) in March 1999. A few weeks earlier, in January 1999, I had published my book “Murder by Media” which carefully, analytically and factually exposed distorted reporting, largely over Pauline Hanson’s One Nation. The Courier-Mail was central to the claims made in the book and as a direct result Chris Mitchell’s payback was extreme. Coming from two fronts.

The first was a series of nine defamatory articles published in just a few months. The methodology was simple – hand pick a few posts from my online paper and then select extracts from these - making them the basis for and proof of my anti-Semitism or support for anti-Semitic or extremist views. This is when Jeremy Jones trotted onto the scene and first called me anti-Semitic. Jones’ personal issue was my raising the appalling publication of the names and addresses of 2,000 One Nation members from a stolen list by his paper, the Australia Israel Review, in 1998. In the book "Murder by Media" I compared that action to the sort of thing the Nazi regime would have done. My calling a spade a spade really stuck in Jones’ craw – and he even admits this in one of his articles in his magazine.

I closed down my paper in 2000 shortly after being acquitted of naming a Labor MP, Bill D’Arcy, who was subsequently convicted to 13 years behind bars for paedophilia. As a result of this politicized arrest I wrote the book “Enemy of the State” which has just been put into a compelling documentary film. The Courier-Mail played a leading role in the arrest – the second payback – and features prominently in both the book and the film.

I have not been party to any “controversial” articles or stories since closing down the paper in March 2000 because my views are well known. I embrace the Jewish community and have tremendous respect for the great majority of them. I think that what happened during the Holocaust was shocking beyond belief. I am not a Holocaust denier. The open challenge to any of your readers is to find anything that I have written (not others views or taken out of context) that can be couched anti-Semitic. They can Google my name and they will find hundreds of listings but the only references to my being anti-Semitic (apart from The Courier-Mail articles in 1999) can be tracked directly back to one man – Jeremy Jones. His actions have resulted in my name appearing on several Jewish lists of anti-Semites at about the time “Murder by Media” was published. Hurtful in the extreme but I cannot do anything about it.

The comments dragged into the paper this week by Roberts have got to be understood in light of the explanation above. They are simply misleading, highly defamatory and politically motivated. What Roberts has done has searched my name in The Courier-Mail’s database and then given currency to false allegations which are nearly ten years old. I am shocked that such a serious issue has been treated in this manner. It clearly reflects the disparity, no chasm, in reporting standards and ethics at News Limited.

Thank you for allowing me to submit my lengthy rebuttal. As I am in S Africa and do not have ready access to the Internet 24/7 please accept, in advance, my apology for any delays in further responses.

Scott Balson

Return to the appalling ethics of The Australian