Scott Balson's initial complaint
P.O. Box 91
29th October 2007
The Press Council
I enclose herewith my complaint against The Australian newspaper. I am faxing ten pages (including this page) which covers the complaint, the email exchange with the reporter Greg Roberts and the article published by the paper.
I will be happy to attend a complaint hearing in Sydney.
For the record I would mention that I have personally established a global village homestay project which is assisting thousands of villagers from Fiji to S Africa. You can see more at: http://www.villagehomestays.com
Furthermore I have just returned from a four week book launch in S Africa. My book "Children of the Mist" has been warmly embraced by the Griqua nation (the coloured people of S Africa). You can see more at: http://www.griquas.com
This book has taken thirty years of part time research and is at odds with the unsubstantiated claim that I am a racist.
I see the Press Council's urgent action on this matter as I am tired of these personal attacks by The Australian's editor Chris Mitchell. The attacks follow the publication of my book "Murder by Media" in 1999.
AUSTRALIAN PRESS COUNCIL COMPLAINT FORM
Date: 29th October 2007
When complaining either of a breach of the Council's Statement of Principles or of the print media's Privacy Standards, complete this form and submit it to the Council by mail, fax or email.
At the same time, you must also send the Council the page/s on which the article complained of was published (or a readable copy of the page/s) and all correspondence sent to the publication in support of your complaint.
Complaints can be made against a news report or commentary (including images and cartoons) in any commercial periodical published in Australia, but not against an advertisement or the non-journalistic operations of a publication.
Complaints must be lodged within sixty (60) days of initial publication.
A guide to completing the Complaint Form, including answers to some frequently asked questions, is available from the Council.
A. COMPLAINANT INFORMATION
Name: Charles Scott Balson
Mailing Address: P.O. Box 91 Wellers Hill, QLD 4121, Australia
B. PUBLICATION INFORMATION
My complaint is against: The Australian Newspaper
Date/s of publication: 5th October - article attached
You need to send the Council a copy of the article(s) or illustration(s) you are complaining about. (In the case of a photo, drawing or headline, we need a copy of the article it relates to, if any.
In order to make it clear, please list the headline or name of the item/s your complaint relates to:
Far right behind Shreddergate bid
C. MAIN THRUST OF THE COMPLAINT
State, in 400 words or less, the main thrust of your complaint.
The article by Greg Roberts was written while I was in S Africa launching my latest book "Children of the Mist". The only contact I had with Greg Roberts was by email and these emails are attached.
The following statements in the attached article are the basis of this complaint:
Others whose controversial views have been published by Mr Balson on his internet sites include veteran American neo-Nazi William Pierce, prominent Holocaust denier Bradley Smith, One World conspiracy theorist Peter Myers, and League of Rights chief Jeremy Lee.
The reference above is to my on-line daily newspaper which was shut down in March 2000 (ie over seven years ago) and the comments referred to were part of an open forum by participating readers and were clearly referenced as not my views. The various Blogs run by News Limited publications now follow a similar format to that of my old paper and thus could also be accused of the allegations made by Jeremy Jones below based on their association to comments carried today in these Blogs. I have not been involved in providing any Blogs or Forums since 2000 and, as a result, have had no association since then with any with extremist right-wing views and the spreading of crazy conspiracy theories.
"Scott Balson has long been associated with extremist right-wing views and the spreading of crazy conspiracy theories," said Executive Council of Australian Jewry spokesman Jeremy Jones.
This reference was made by Jeremy Jones in 1999 at the very time The Courier-Mail under The Australian's editor, Chris Mitchell, was pursuing a vindictive campaign against me for publishing the book "Murder by Media" which exposed the paper's bias. The comment "long been associated" has been inserted by the paper and has no basis - a fact that would have been known by the paper. Furthemore no reference to these "far right or extremist" allegations was communicated to me by Greg Roberts as can be seen in the attached exchange of emails.
The conspiracy theories included a baseless claim of a plot by businesses to poison the public through an artificial sweetener in Diet Coke.
This is a complete fabrication by the paper as no such claim or conspiracy theory was ever made by me.
Mr Balson denied yesterday that he was an extremist. He said he had a responsibility to keep Shreddergate in the public eye. "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."
As can be seen from the exchange of emails between the reporter and myself no such denial was made by me. I was never aware of the tenor of the article that Mr Roberts published. His line of questioning never made any mention of "Far right" - the thrust of his article.
Furthermore the suggestion in the rticle is that I am anti-Semitic a claim I strongly refute.
Do you have a direct association with the matters or persons referred to in the article and in the complaint? If not, what reason do you have to raise the complaint?
D. CONTACT WITH PUBLICATION
Have you contacted the publication/s or website about the matter/s listed above? If so, in what manner and when?
If not, why not?
I returned from South Africa over the weekend and as a result of the time delay and previous unsatisfactory experiences with the ethical standards of any paper edited by Chris Mitchell have decided to take this matter up directly with the Press Council.
What, if any, response have you had from the publication/s?
E. PRINCIPLES BREACHED
Looking at the Statement of Principles, or the print media's Privacy Standards, do you consider that any of the principles has been breached in this case? If so, write the number/s, indicating which principle/s, in this space.
Newspapers and magazines ("publications") should not publish what they know or could reasonably be expected to know is false, or fail to take reasonable steps to check the accuracy of what they report.
A publication should make amends for publishing information that is found to be harmfully inaccurate by printing, promptly and with appropriate prominence, such retraction, correction, explanation or apology as will neutralise the damage so far as possible.
News obtained by dishonest or unfair means, or the publication of which would involve a breach of confidence, should not be published unless there is an over-riding public interest.
Publications are free to advocate their own views and publish the views of others on controversial topics, as long as readers are readily able to recognise what is fact and what is opinion. Relevant facts should not be misrepresented or suppressed, headlines and captions should fairly reflect the tenor of an article and readers should be advised of any manipulation of images and potential conflicts of interest.
Where individuals or groups are singled out for criticism, the publication should ensure fairness and balance in the original article. Failing that, it should provide a reasonable and swift opportunity for a balancing response in the appropriate section of the publication.
Return to The Australian's scandalous article