This could well be my last post on Tony Veitch for some time. He was charged this afternoon (Monday) on six counts of assault and one of ‘reckless disregard’. According to his lawyers Mr Veitch will strenuously defend himself. His first court appearance is likely to be Monday next week.
This is my likely last post because, as of about now, the sub judice rule kicks in. According to my media law bible: “one should not say or do anything that might create a real risk of prejudice to a fair trial”. (Burrows & Cheer, 2005,p.387)
So, I guess it’s lucky that the PR flacks got in over the last couple of weeks to get the ‘poor Tony’ spin into the news cycle. We can now all google that stuff till the cows come home; it predates the charges so is not technically within the period of sub judice.
This post is, so I’m going to be careful and brief; when a matter is before a court (literally sub judice = under a judge) anything that prejudices the trial, or brings the process into disrepute is contempt of court.
If the trial is before a jury there is the constant fear of prejudice – jurors and potential jurors being influenced by pre-trial publicity. The question, according to B&C is therefore: “How great is the risk that this publication might influence the jurors (or witnesses)?”
This question cannot be easily answered; there’s no scientific measure of ‘influence’ over a jury. However, we can say that in this case there’s been a lack of balancing information recently.
- We have the allegations being canvassed high and low – how many kicks and punches, etc; was Ms Dunne-Powell’s back broken or not?
- We knew it was serious when Tony’s pals began to move quietly to the back of the room.
- We know that Mr Veitch resigned from his high-paid jobs when the story refused to go away.
- We know that Mr Veitch is not really like that and we know that Kristin Dunne-Powell is, at least, accused of stalking by Veitch’s supporters.
- We can surmise that a certain Mr Holmes might be called as a character witness.
All of that is hearsay and it’s now in the public domain thanks to the media’s close attention to the case.
The End of Part 1.