Scott Balson's response to The Australian's response to his complaint
P.O. Box 91
28th November 2007
Mr Jack Herman, Executive Secretary
Australian Press Council,
Suite 10.02, 117 York St, Sydney 2000
Dear Mr Herman
I am in receipt of The Australian's response dated 16th November 2007. I wish to place on record that I now wish to take this complaint to the Complaints Committee.
By way of my response to their letter I would make the first and extremely important observation; either the editorial staff of The Australian treats the APC with absolute contempt or is aware of its failings as an independent body overseeing these sorts of complaints. The manner in which the paper refuses to respond to the core elements of my initial complaint and their contemptible offer in their closing comments is sufficient evidence to me of this fact.
Whether I am an extremist or not is irrelevant to the issues raised here. The point is that I was knowingly verballed. The Australian suggests in their reply that I refused an interview and this was reason enough to fabricate a comment I had not made. The hypocrisy of this action should not be lost by this Counsel because the paper presents a highly damaging headline associating me with right wing extremists then suggest that I said that I am not when they knew that I knew nothing about this allegation! What hypocrisy! They have refused to address this point in their reply to my complaint. For the record I am not a right wing extremist and not anti-Semitic.
In page two of their response they claim I was given the chance to be "interviewed" by Greg Roberts. They knew at all times through our email exchanges of my circumstances - namely that I was in transit to South Africa when Roberts first emailed me. In all these email exchanges (attached) I requested the reporter send his questions by email. This is a legitimate form of interview and that is how Roberts extracted the single statement (taken out of context in his article) from my email -"I have kept the Lindeberg webpage open since 1997 and will continue to support him because his fight is for justice in a corrupt system." It was Roberts who failed to follow up my reply from Jan Smuts airport and inform me that the thrust of the article had dramatically changed from Shreddergate to accusations of my being a "right wing extremist" and labelling whistleblower Kevin Lindeberg, by association as one too. I was unaware of this radical change in the thrust of the article until alerted to it while I was in S Africa.
Aspartame and anti-Semitism:
The debate over the safety of Aspartame (not Asparme (sic) as quoted in The Australian's letter) still rages on ten years after the issue was first debated in open forum on my @notd daily online newspaper - which preceded News Ltd online by many years. To support this claim simply Google Aspartame poison. When I looked there were over 200,000 related links. I would have thought in a society advocating free speech open discussion should be welcomed - not ridiculed by the false and ludicrous suggestion that I made the "claim of a plot by businesses to poison the public". I challenge The Australian to provide their source at the meeting. It should be noted that my @notd closed down in 2000 and any reference by The Australian on this issue is not news. The history of this ridiculous beat-up by The Australian can be quickly and effectively demonstrated.
The first time the concerns over the debate over Aspartame in my paper were raised was in an article by The Australian's named "authority" Jeremy Jones. The article was published just weeks after the publication of my book "Murder by Media" which slammed Jones' magazine for publishing the private details of One Nation members. I would refer you to page 169 of the book where I say: The Australia/Israel Review overstepped the mark when it unilaterally published a list of names of some 2,000 One Nation supporters under the banner cover "Gotcha!" in the week of the 9th July 1998. You can see the article in direct response published by Jones on 29 January 1999 online at: http://www.aijac.org.au/review/1999/242/jones242.html
Most of the allegations made by Jones against me in this article are refuted and reflect his bias and attempts to respond to the allegations made in my book.
It was in this same article that Jones (for the first time) referred to me and my @notd as being anti-Semitic because it allowed open discussion through an online forum on a range of issues. I totally refute that allegation and would, as earlier stated, impress on the Council that many who had had anti-Semitic views became sympathetic to their cause because of a wide and open exchange of views was allowed and not suppressed. This form of journalism appears to be the modus operandi of News Ltd, when it suits them, - surprising for the so-called self-proclaimed the guardians of "free speech".
It was only after Jones' article appeared that The Courier-Mail took up the stand that I was anti-Semitic - a theme it continued to trot out in several articles during 1999 and 2000. Jeremy Jones was continually referred to as their "expert" source. Jones is not an authority on my beliefs and knows nothing about me - his statements have always been an attempt to address the serious allegations I raised in my book "Murder by Media". Likewise, the editor of The Courier-Mail, Chris Mitchell, was clearly responding in this manner because of the success of my best-selling book "Murder by Media" which factually highlighted the unethical reporting methods of that paper while it was under his command.
In an article in The Courier-Mail dated 26th February 2000 "Ethics and the Web" Chris Mitchell's wife, Deborah Cassrels, launched into me in a prominent feature article two weeks before my trial for naming Bill D'Arcy as a paedophile. In part she says, "His site has also been criticised for anti-Semitic and anti-Asian comments, and several well-known people are preparing defamation actions against him." It should be noted that I was found not guilty by a Magistrate - as noted by the APC in 2000. Following a Supreme Court action I took against The Courier-Mail in 2001 for being party to a malicious prosecution the paper admitted to being the complainant against me in court documents. It should also be noted that I have never been sued for defamation. More on this issue can be seen at: http://www.gwb.com.au/enemy.htm
What I am alleging is that when Nick Cater refers in his reply to "the records (on anti-Semitism) speak for themselves" that this is trumped up and self-serving - a conspiracy to further blacken my name. A conspiracy the APC have walked away from in the past.
It concerns me that when I raised the issue of the paper insinuating in the article that I was anti-Semitic that the Executive Secretary of the APC in early November immediately replied over the phone that he had not seen that insinuation in the article. This is exactly the line taken by The Australian yet the insinuation in the article is clearly there.
I have attached print outs of recent comments made eighteen months ago on News Ltd forums which could be equated as anti-Semitic despite the fact that these forums are supposed to be moderated. There is no difference to the tenor of the comments displayed here. It is therefore ironic therefore that the paper has hypocritically labeled me for allowing discussions nearly ten years ago in a similar format!
It should be noted that the claim that I am a "long term right wing extremist" based on the comments by Jeremy Jones are simply wrong as reflected in the history outlined above. The Australian's response that my track record on this issue speaks for itself only reflects News Ltds own ability to rewrite facts to suit their own dishonest agenda.
In my complaint I challenged The Australian to find anything anti-Semitic or racist that I had been involved in since shutting down my paper in March 2000. The views expressed over seven years ago on my forum, the focus of the paper's claims, were clearly noted at that time as not those of the editor (myself). They have refused to respond to this point - because there is no evidence, because I am not racist or anti-Semitic. They are simply wrong and have at best fabricated claims and at worst knowingly lied. Yet they present these allegations in the article as if they are current and relevant. The words "long been associated with extremist right-wing views" in their article reflect their lies and paranoia.
The allegation that I am a right wing extremist:
" This allegation is directly associated with my involvement with One Nation in 1999 and followed the publication of "Murder by Media" as outlined above. This book clearly refutes the thrust and integrity of the mainstream media on the racist allegations and in particular the line taken by The Courier-Mail. This paper was even slammed by Margo Kingston in her book "Between the rails" as being biased beyond belief (Index at back).
" I know that I am not racist, am appalled by the labeling, and would suggest that anyone who spent just a few minutes surfing the web would come to the same conclusion. It is thus that I question the integrity of The Australian's self-styled expert Jeremy Jones when raising this allegation against me. Jones' agenda has been exposed in this letter.
" I would ask the complaint committee whether a right wing extremist would:
Take 30 years writing a widely acclaimed book "Children of the Mist" launched this year which rewrites early S African history from a non-white perspective? More at this link
Establish a global village homestay project through the Internet which has its focus on uplifting indigenous people around the world. More at this link
I would ask the question of Chris Mitchell and Greg Roberts - what have they done to aid the plight of people of colour? I am sure that I know the answer - nothing - perhaps they are the closet racists who need to be exposed - maybe even paedophiles?
I wonder how they would like that title being associated with them in a widely published article? Just like me, I know they would be understandably horrified and devastated by the suggestion - yet this is what they have done to me and my reputation in the article that is central to this complaint. If I was to use their reporting methods I could also trump up allegations against them that would make the hair curl on their heads - the only thing I lack is their privileged forum The Australian - a forum which they have clearly abused. For the record, if I had such a forum I have too much moral fiber to stoop to their level.
The Complaints Committee need to consider carefully this aspect of my complaint - namely the impact this article has had on me personally.
Right of reply:
With regards to the right of reply. I would refer you to the treatment of a prior right of reply (1998) I submitted to a News Ltd paper under Chris Mitchell's stewardship. I would refer you to this page: http://www.gwb.com.au/gwb/news/mai/apc.html Under the circumstances and, even going to the misquoting of me in this complaint, the APC cannot fail to see why I have no faith in the editorial team at The Australian. It is a fact that in 1999 the APC had to warn The Courier-Mail for leaving out a key sentence in their adjudication against me. The sentence looked at the argument from my perspective. That sentence was NEVER published in The Courier-Mail. Instead I received a dismissive letter "of apology" from The Courier-Mail's Gary Evans.
I have not taken this line of action because I have absolutely no faith in the integrity of the editorial staff under Chris Mitchell - this stance is based, as outlined above, on several experiences of unethical journalistic standards.
The information carried on my website about the shredding of the Heiner documents is all already on the public record. It has not been compiled for Mr Lindeberg - it is my own campaign to expose a great wrong - again I challenged The Australian to produce any evidence that suggests otherwise. My email response to this question speaks for itself.
The Australian's allegation that the web page is maintained in co-operation with Kevin Lindeberg is strongly denied. There are several web sites not associated with the writer that now refer to these public records and the shredding of the Heiner documents.
In summary it is clear that the article "Far Right behind Shreddergate bid" breached several fundamental journalistic codes including:
Knowingly presenting a biased and unreliable source, Jeremy Jones, as an expert on the subject he knows nothing about. See my involvement in homestays and the book.
Not discussing the thrust of their article with myself (ie Far right and extremism) before it was published.
Claiming that my page was compiled in co-operation with Kevin Lindeberg when it was of my own volition - and this point was clearly made to Roberts in my email.
Suggesting that I had not wanted to be interviewed when the paper knew through emails that I was in transit to S Africa to launch my new book and the only communication open was via email. Why is this not an acceptable form of interview? In would suggest that The Australian would have preferred a phone interview because there would not have been the trail of evidence left of what has been said - as there is in this case.
Publishing the article while I was out of the country without advising me that this had been done.
And critically, making a claim that I had denied being an extremist when the paper knew that this issue had never been raised with me and that I had never made the comment.
As outlined above I decided not to waste my time sending a right of reply based on the manner in which this process has been abused by Christ Mitchell' editorial staff in the past.
I would ask the Complaints Committee to treat the allegations raised here as extremely serious - not just because of the lack of ethics of the editorial staff of The Australian under Chris Mitchell but because of their ongoing slander against my good reputation.
I have attached just two of several examples of how this article has resulted in a ripple effect through the Internet. The articles one, a post in "Fightdemback" and another in "The voice of today's apathetic youth" demonstrate just how damaging this sort of behaviour has already been on my reputation. If you Google "far right heiner balson" you will see that there are already over 30 Internet posts directly associated with this article by The Australian.
I am seeking a prominent and strongly worded adjudication on this issue exposing the paper's unethical reporting methods - to be published in The Australian addressing the issues raised in my complaint. Further, in the interests of the mainstream media's own integrity, I request that the editorial staff at The Australian be called before the APC and be put on notice about using unethical standards of reporting in the future. I also seek a personal letter of apology from Greg Roberts and Chris Mitchell under The Australian's letterhead.
Return to The Australian reporting scandal