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Herald Sun scoop: lawyer we apparently don’t like charged but not found guilty of offence in 1993!

Pure Poison IconWhat was the justification for this nasty smear by James Campbell against a private citizen that ran in yesterday’s Sunday Herald Sun?

GANGLAND lawyer Nicola Gobbo was charged with drug trafficking while at university after police raided the Carlton house she was living in.

The barrister who represented Tony Mokbel and Carl Williams during Melbourne’s underworld war was arrested after extensive police surveillance of her house in Rathdowne St, Carlton, in September 1993.

I don’t get it. I just don’t get it.

To summarise:

  • She was merely charged and apparently not found guilty in the subsequent eighteen years, which means that she was innocent of the offence.
  • The incident was in NINETEEN NINETY THREE. Almost twenty years ago. (What a timely scoop, Campbell!)
  • And she “has left the bar, suffering from ill-health”. So what’s the public interest in this non-story?

So, a smear with no apparent news value, but the potential to harm the private citizen it attacks.

What’s behind it? For what slight is James Campbell or the Herald Sun using their media power to get revenge on her? How is Campbell legally obtaining this old and confidential material? Who is leaking smears on the lawyer to the Herald Sun, and why? And why is it being published?

It’s nasty, destructive stuff – the foul imputation is there, even if they’ve technically admitted in the story there’s nothing to it – and, short of an expensive defamation suit against News Ltd’s deep pockets, the target does not have a fair chance to defend herself. She certainly doesn’t have her own newspaper with which to respond in kind.

When newspapers like the Herald Sun talk about free speech, that’s what they mean. Their freedom to smear with impunity, knowing that their victims do not have the power or prominence to give them the same in return.

Maybe there is a reason for an inquiry into their one-sided dominance of the national print media, after all.

PS: “Gangland lawyer”? Does James Campbell really think people charged with crimes shouldn’t be able to find a lawyer to defend them, and that any barrister who does as the cab rank principle demands and accepts a brief to do just that is somehow implicit in their alleged offences? Tainted, so that you can put “gangland” in their job description? FFS.

UPDATE: The photograph the Hun has used seems to have been taken at the time of this story, revealing Gobbo as a key secret witness in the murder case against former detective Paul Dale. The Hun had the suppression order on her name lifted. The plot thickens.

ELSEWHERE: Blogger Paul Watson suggests a disturbing link:

Today’s Herald Sun story on [Gobbo] is as malevolent in its timing, and as nonchalant about its revelation of very sensitive secret material, illegally-obtained, as it was in publishing Carl Williams’ status as a police informer on the day of his murder.

In both cases, the Herald Sun has relied on a fig-leaf of sorts. On 19 April last year, it didn’t actually state, but merely inescapably implied, that Carl Williams was a police informer. Today, its [story on] Ms Gobbo is pregnant with omission. The last event chronologically detailed is the fire-bombing of Ms Gobbo’s car in 2008 (16 April); after which it oh-so smarmily wraps up her life in the last three-and-a-half-years with this: “In recent years Ms Gobbo has left the bar, suffering from ill-health”.

Those points make “nasty personal vendetta by someone at the Herald Sun” seem like the best-case scenario.

UPDATE #3: Gobbo was the barrister who, after Victoria Police did a terrible job of looking after her in witness protection, sued them. Bad blood from some in the police leading to these nasty smears being given to a friendly reporter? But why publish them now?

Since the Herald Sun obviously won’t investigate this questionable use of police records, perhaps it’s something its rival at Spencer St might consider?

UPDATE 20/11: A week later, and Campbell now alleges the barrister was found guilty of possessing and using a drug of dependence (eg cannabis), whilst throwing in a whole lot of details about what other people in her share house were up to. The article is headlined “drugs guilty plea” which makes it sound, when read in conjunction with the earlier piece, that she pleaded guilty to a trafficking charge – although of course that is not what the story specifically alleges, if you read it carefully.

UPDATE 21/11: And a day after that, it is revealed that the barrister has withdrawn from giving evidence after receiving serious death threats. So the smears were… for what?

UPDATE 27/11: And another week later, another smear, this time that she “boozed and partied” with Paul Dale.

Man, you wouldn’t want to get on the wrong side of anyone at the Herald Sun, would you?

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  • 1
    Posted November 14, 2011 at 10:19 am | Permalink

    She was merely charged and apparently not found guilty in the subsequent eighteen years, which means that she was innocent of the offence.

    Not quite true. It means she wasn’t guilty of the offence (beyond reasonable doubt). There’s a big difference between “not guilty” and “innocent.”

    Not that that difference in any way excuses this disgusting hatchet job.

  • 2
    Aldaron
    Posted November 14, 2011 at 10:31 am | Permalink

    There’s a big difference between “not guilty” and “innocent.”

    No there is not. There absolutely is not. A person is INNOCENT until proven guilty beyond reasonable doubt. If they are not convicted, they REMAIN innocent. Their innocence is never gone until they are convicted.

  • 3
    Fran Barlow
    Posted November 14, 2011 at 10:37 am | Permalink

    Bondles said:

    It means she wasn’t guilty of the offence (beyond reasonable doubt). There’s a big difference between “not guilty” and “innocent.”

    As a matter of culture, that’s true, but from the POV of the law, there is no difference. It is as if no action had been raised against Ms Gobbo at all and the presumption of innocence persists.

  • 4
    Posted November 14, 2011 at 10:50 am | Permalink

    What Aldaron said.

    Of course, the confusion between those two is how the smear works. She’s not been found guilty of anything, but she was charged, and the Herald Sun is reporting it twenty years later, so – a reader might be tempted to think, wrongly – it must mean something

  • 5
    Tomus Barava
    Posted November 14, 2011 at 11:06 am | Permalink

    Just a hypothetical to ponder on this issue:

    If a journalist can label someone a “gangland lawyer”, simply because they’ve represented people charged with criminal offences.

    Would it then be reasonable to label anyone working for an organisation that has been implicated in hacking phones, bribing police or other nefarious activities as a “criminal journalist”?

  • 6
    mondo rock
    Posted November 14, 2011 at 11:14 am | Permalink

    “Innocent” is not just a legal term – it’s also an ordinary English adjective.

    Someone can obviously be found innocent at trial despite not actually being innocent of the crime for which they are accused (just as someone can be found guilty of a crime despite not actually being guilty). Ergo legal innocence does not automatically equate to actual innocence.

    Not saying that this lawyer is innocent or not – just saying that legal innocence (or guilt) cannot be elevated to a position of unchallengeable truth.

  • 7
    GaryM
    Posted November 14, 2011 at 11:17 am | Permalink

    It’s what you do when there are no leadership challenge rumours. Or a load of vindictive coppers calling up their “quid pro quo” you be the judge.

  • 8
    GaryM
    Posted November 14, 2011 at 11:30 am | Permalink

    mondo rock @ 6

    Why don’t you tell us something we don’t know?

    And………

  • 9
    Posted November 14, 2011 at 11:49 am | Permalink

    The point, Mondo, is that there’s nothing in it. She was not found guilty of it, she will never be found guilty of it, and being charged and then not being found guilty is completely meaningless. The smear is insinuating that it isn’t.

  • 10
    Aldaron
    Posted November 14, 2011 at 11:53 am | Permalink

    Mondo @6

    Nobody is suggesting it’s an “unchallengable truth” – but it IS a legal truth. The woman is NOT GUILTY (and therefore INNOCENT) under the way our legal system operates. She’s not “mostly innocent” or “a little bit guilty” – it’s a binary state.

    For the Hun to use it as a smear is disingenuous at best – and fairly typical of the weasel-words used by the Murdoch Press (and others) every time something like this crops up.

  • 11
    Posted November 14, 2011 at 12:00 pm | Permalink

    “Innocent” is not just a legal term – it’s also an ordinary English adjective.

    And yet, in the legal context, it is also a technical term. This sort of reporting is begging, nay, demanding confusion between these definitions.

    Also, legally speaking, it is a distinction without a difference. Whether you can’t be proven to have done it is functionally identical to whether you can be proven not to have done it. Either way, you are not liable for punishment.

    And what else is this, but punishment for not being found innocent enough?

    It’s a more insidious form of the other old standard: “We cannot disprove the rumour that so-and-so eats puppies.” It’s the same insinuation by false exclusion, only with the thin patina of pretended legal sanction.

  • 12
    mondo rock
    Posted November 14, 2011 at 12:23 pm | Permalink

    The point, Mondo, is that there’s nothing in it.

    I understand your point Jeremy, but to be fair you can’t possibly know that there was nothing in it. All you can say for sure is that she wasn’t convicted of a crime.

    I do appreciate the dangers of newspapers casually ‘mentioning’ unproved charges though and I understand where you’re coming from.

  • 13
    GaryM
    Posted November 14, 2011 at 12:36 pm | Permalink

    “It’s a more insidious form of the other old standard: “We cannot disprove the rumour that so-and-so eats puppies.” It’s the same insinuation by false exclusion, only with the thin patina of pretended legal sanction”

    Indeed. It is this innuendo that feeds this type of action by newspapers. They feed off the fact that the public mentality of ” A fair trial then hang them in the morning” is alive and well. Or the coppers “We know he/she is guilty we just can’t prove it”. The said journalist in this instance should be sued.

  • 14
    Posted November 14, 2011 at 12:44 pm | Permalink

    I understand your point Jeremy, but to be fair you can’t possibly know that there was nothing in it. All you can say for sure is that she wasn’t convicted of a crime.

    Lets see if you can understand the point if we put this more simply:

    “[S]he wasn’t convicted of a crime” … THEREFORE, by definition, “there was nothing in it”, QED.

  • 15
    Aliar Jones
    Posted November 14, 2011 at 12:55 pm | Permalink

    All you can say for sure is that she wasn’t convicted of a crime.

    I do appreciate the dangers of newspapers casually ‘mentioning’ unproved charges though and I understand where you’re coming from.

    Sigh, you really are the worst kind of apologist Mondo

  • 16
    B.Tolputt
    Posted November 14, 2011 at 1:11 pm | Permalink

    I understand your point Jeremy, but to be fair you can’t possibly know that there was nothing in it. All you can say for sure is that she wasn’t convicted of a crime.

    I do appreciate the dangers of newspapers casually ‘mentioning’ unproved charges though and I understand where you’re coming from.

    If you have the facts on your side, pound the facts. If you have the law on your side, pound the law. If you have neither on your side, pound the table. Or, if commenting on a blog, play a game with semantics and ignore the point of the article in question.

    Seriously, the pedantry some people engage in to score a point *rolls eyes*

  • 17
    thalesian
    Posted November 14, 2011 at 1:16 pm | Permalink

    It’s not like Scots Law (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Not_proven) where there is a third option of Not Proven…

    It’s just a spiteful smear on a slow news day…

  • 18
    Posted November 14, 2011 at 4:55 pm | Permalink

    As the lawyer was not convicted, she has the right not to disclose the fact that she was charged. The Hun has just deprived her of that right: type her name into Google and the first two links are to the Hun’s story.

    The defence that the Hun was duly reporting on current or pending court proceedings might have held water while the matter was still before the courts. But surely it doesn’t hold water after the matter has been resolved in the subject person’s favour.

    And it might have held water in the days when last year’s news was stored in library archives that were not digitally searchable. But surely it doesn’t hold water in the age of Google.

    The lawyer might therefore threaten to set two legal precedents:

    (i) that the privilege against being sued for defamation for reporting court proceedings does not apply to charges of which the plaintiff has been duly cleared;

    (ii) that the same privilege does not relieve the media of a general duty to report current proceedings in such a way that an accused person, if cleared of an allegation, will enjoy the effective right not to disclose that allegation.

    The Hun might make a very generous out-of-court settlement rather than allow those contentions to be tested in court.

    It might be said that if media outlets were found liable for past reporting of criminal charges that were dropped, dismissed or resolved by acquittal, they would be bankrupt. Well, tough. If the existing outlets go bankrupt, new ones will spontaneously rise up in their place. That’s the genius of capitalism.

  • 19
    cricketninja
    Posted November 14, 2011 at 5:46 pm | Permalink

    Is it possible that Ms Gobbo was found/plead guilty of an offence and that no conviction was recorded by the court?

    If the offence was minor enough, and given Gobbo’s legal studies at the time, it is possible that the court declined to record any conviction.

    I find that the way the article has been oddly worded in this regard:

    “It appears Ms Gobbo may not have been convicted over the incident as she was later admitted to practise law.”

  • 20
    mondo rock
    Posted November 14, 2011 at 6:18 pm | Permalink

    Actually B – the implications of the lack of a conviction in this case are not only relevant to the article, they form the specific foundation of Jeremy’s attack on it.

    It is therefore entirely relevant to remind those who have glibly declared her ‘innocent’ that she may not, in fact, be innocent. Charges are dropped every day for multiple reasons but that doesn’t equate to a finding of “innocent” at trial, let alone a factual certainty of innocence.

    Accuracy is important when constructing an argument. Probably not to you, granted, but to some of us.

  • 21
    Posted November 14, 2011 at 7:06 pm | Permalink

    “It is therefore entirely relevant to remind those who have glibly declared her ‘innocent’ that she may not, in fact, be innocent”

    No, Mondo. Like you, she is innocent until proven guilty. And since such a thing never happened, it is wrong – in fact, defamatory – to allege that she’s guilty of any offence. And the Herald Sun has suggested just that.

    To pander to that line, to suggest that maybe she is guilty if she was charged, is repugnant. She is as innocent as you are.

    “It is therefore entirely relevant to remind those who have glibly declared her ‘innocent’ that she may not, in fact, be innocent. Charges are dropped every day for multiple reasons but that doesn’t equate to a finding of “innocent” at trial, let alone a factual certainty of innocence.”

    YOU ARE INNOCENT UNTIL AND UNLESS PROVEN GUILTY. Thus she was as innocent as you are. Full stop. You have NO basis for alleging that she was guilty of any crime, and the Herald Sun’s smear suggesting that she was is outright defamatory. Here’s hoping she takes their deep pockets on.

    “Is it possible that Ms Gobbo was found/plead guilty of an offence and that no conviction was recorded by the court?”

    It’s possible that you committed murder and we’re just not aware of it yet.

    Drug trafficking is a serious offence. When she was admitted to practice it would’ve been investigated and she wouldn’t have ended up a barrister.

    “I find that the way the article has been oddly worded in this regard:”

    The reason is that they have nothing. It’s disgusting speculation designed to smear her based on absolute pablum.

  • 22
    cricketninja
    Posted November 14, 2011 at 7:30 pm | Permalink

    Interstingly, the Victorian Legal Profession Act, when referring to “suitability matters” relating to the admission of a legal practitioner, includes “whether the person has been guilty of an offence in Australia or a foreign country”.

    The equivalent Queensland provisions include “whether the person has been convicted of an offence in Australia or a foreign country”.

  • 23
    Paul Watson
    Posted November 14, 2011 at 8:26 pm | Permalink

    Debate over the nitty-gritty of Nicola Gobbo’s old legal run-in nicely underscores the providence of the documents that the Herald Sun relied on for its story. I would guess that its source here was police (= leaked), as opposed to court, documents. In general, of course, the former are confidential, while the latter are public (albeit usually not easily accessible).

    The fact of the Herald Sun’s speculation – viz that Ms Gobbo’s subsequent legal admission showed that the charges did not lead to a conviction – also suggests that the paper either (i) has not bothered to check, or (ii) was denied access to, court documents as to what was the ultimate formal outcome of Ms Gobbo’s charges. (My guess is the former: after all, if the underworld are feeding you its choicest tidbits, you are not likely to want the effort of metaphorically picking your own grapes in the dusty vineyard of legal minutiae, in order to round off your “meal”)

    As far as Gavin Putland’s suggestion that Ms Gobbo may have a good defamation case, I think that she may have more urgent priorities for the foreseeable future; such as avoiding the death threats arising from her (very reluctant) involvement in current underworld legal proceedings, viz page 1 of the Herald Sun on 10 November 2011.

  • 24
    SHV
    Posted November 14, 2011 at 9:08 pm | Permalink

    Coming from Mr I-Love-News-Ltd, this is going straight to the Pool Room:

    Accuracy is important when constructing an argument. Probably not to you, granted, but to some of us.

  • 25
    Aldaron
    Posted November 14, 2011 at 9:09 pm | Permalink

    Accuracy is important when constructing an argument. Probably not to you, granted, but to some of us.

    But not you, apparently.

    Charges are dropped every day for multiple reasons but that doesn’t equate to a finding of “innocent” at trial, let alone a factual certainty of innocence.

    I’ve gone through the article and I can’t find anything about the charges being dropped. All I can find is the Hun’s weasel words “It appears she may not have been convicted…”

    So in the absence of any other information, it seems you’re just clutching at straws about charges being dropped, while admonishing others over a perceived lack of accuracy.

    Kettle. Pot. Black.

  • 26
    mondo rock
    Posted November 15, 2011 at 10:27 am | Permalink

    Jeremy: No, Mondo. Like you, she is innocent until proven guilty.

    And yet, Jeremy, I am in fact guilty of a great many crimes for which I have never been charged or convicted. Pot smoking (and occasional cultivation) alone could have seen me jailed if events had transpired against me, then there’s the vandalism of youth, severe breaches of fisheries regulations . . . nothing major of course, but crimes nonetheless.

    I’m not innocent of those crimes just because I was never charged. I am innocent under law, but I am quite guilty in reality. Innocent is not just a technical legal concept no matter how hard you capitalise your assertion to the contrary. You can look up the definition of the word “innocent” if you like and you will see that it does not just refer to a legal outcome.

    Aldaron: I’ve gone through the article and I can’t find anything about the charges being dropped.

    Fair enough, but then I didn’t actually claim that the charges against her were dropped – I only ventured it as a possible reason for why she was not convicted (quite a likely reason as it happens). I gave you a very plausible scenario under which someone’s innocence could remain an open question despite the lack of a conviction.

    Do you agree in principle that, where charges have been dropped against an accused, it is a stretch to declare them definitively innocent of that crime, or is “innocent” a purely legal concept for you also?

  • 27
    mondo rock
    Posted November 15, 2011 at 10:59 am | Permalink

    Hey SHV

    Do you think that all those who defended David Hicks’ right to a fair trial are “Mr-I-Love-David-Hicks”?

    Do you think that all those who objected to the invasion of Iraq love Saddam Hussein and want to marry him?

    Do you think those who object to US terrorism policy support Al Qaeda?

    Because those idiotic propositions are precicely equivalent to what you’ve asserted above. I have defend News Limited’s right to freely publish what it wants and so you have accused me of being in love with News Limited.

    I have never, not once, expressed admiration or affection for ANY news organisation that deliberately skews it’s reporting to suit an agenda, let alone a particular affinity for News Ltd papers or media outlets. All I have done is argue for a principle – for the right of any organisation to freely express whatever viewpoint they desire without government intervention.

    Your behaviour here replicates the worst and the most idiotic behaviour of the dead-brained Right. You ought to re-think your approach to political debate.

  • 28
    SHV
    Posted November 15, 2011 at 11:47 am | Permalink

    Of course I was being churlish. The reference was to your general unconditional defence of News Ltd, and I particularly had this in mind:

    Most of what is written in the Oz is actually good reporting from a particular perspective.

    In this thread you’ve essentially argued it is fair to label someone on the basis of a CHARGE alone regardless of the outcome. The only reason I can think of for you to take that position and argue it so forcefully is because it is a defence of News Ltd’s ‘right’ to “freely express whatever viewpoint they desire”.

    To be clear: I do not advocate any kind of “truth police” to curtail the media.

  • 29
    mondo rock
    Posted November 15, 2011 at 12:20 pm | Permalink

    In this thread you’ve essentially argued it is fair to label someone on the basis of a CHARGE alone regardless of the outcome.

    I most certainly have not – that’s just a false accusation SHV. All I have done is point out that those asserting this individual’s innocence can’t actually know whether that assertion is correct.

    I’m being pedantic as GaryM has effectively noted above – perhaps even pointlessly so – and I’ll wear that criticism. But I haven’t said it’s fair for the Hun to behave as it has and I’m certainly not defending them for this story.

  • 30
    B.Tolputt
    Posted November 15, 2011 at 12:24 pm | Permalink

    More pedantry, Mondo? Is there any wonder people put you into the “concern troll” basket?

    You are using one definition of innocent ignoring the fact that another, equally applicable, definition is available for use and can be used by others. As Jeremy has made equally clear, under the law and in regards to the actions of the Herald Sun, she is innocent until proven guilty. It’s not like rock, paper, scissors where your definition beats our and ours beats someone else’s. It’s equally applicable to the conversation and, more importantly, legally more important to the Herald Sun in regards to the actions in the article.

    You want people to stop dismissing you as a concern troll, stop acting like one. Banging on and on about a semantic quibble with how “innocent” can mean something other than how we’re using is not going to move the debate forward nor really has much to do with the subject in question – the Hun’s implication of criminal guilt when they know she is legally innocent.

  • 31
    mondo rock
    Posted November 15, 2011 at 12:56 pm | Permalink

    First of all B, the guilt or innocence of this lawyer was not raised by the Herald Sun – it was raised by Jeremy who attacked the article using the following formula:

    Person A is charged with crime but not ultimately convicted, therefore Person A is innocent of the crime.

    I have specifically accepted that there are multiple definitions of ‘innocent’, both legal and actual, and have distinguished between the two. It is Jeremy and Aldaron who are insisting that there is only one acceptable definition of ‘innocent’ – i.e. the legal definition – and that this is the only acceptable view. In fact my first bloody post on this thread asserted the following:

    Someone can obviously be found innocent at trial despite not actually being innocent of the crime for which they are accused . . . . Not saying that this lawyer is innocent or not – just saying that legal innocence (or guilt) cannot be elevated to a position of unchallengeable truth.

    In other words you’ve got it arse-backwards.

    Secondly, just FYI, “pedant” is not a synonym for “concern troll”. The two are vastly different concepts and I’m worried for you that you may be making yourself look stupid by using phrases and terminology without knowing what they actually mean.

    OK – I admit – I was being a concern troll in that last sentence.

  • 32
    SHV
    Posted November 15, 2011 at 1:03 pm | Permalink

    I’m certainly not defending them for this story.

    Then what exactly ARE you doing?

  • 33
    Howard,B.
    Posted November 15, 2011 at 1:23 pm | Permalink

    Mondo & Jeremy

    Mondo, whilst I’m normally a fan of your contrarian contributions here within the echo chamber, I’d have to say you’ve got the wrong end of the stick on this one. Now, I’m no lawyer but it would seem for all practical purposes one can only be either guilty or innocent and, as our legal system stipulates, not being the former automatically implies being the latter.
    Having some third limbo-like status does not appear in keeping with an impartial and non-prejudicial legal system.
    However, If this is not to be the case, then I guess we are all to be regarded as suspects who are not so much innocent but merely ‘not guilty’ until proven otherwise, which does not at all strike me as how the justice system should work.

    Jeremy. Clearly we as individuals can question the news-worthiness and public interest value of this piece, but is it actually ‘defamatory’? Is it saying anything untrue? Now, personally, whilst a private publication has an obligation to not violate laws of defamation, incitement et al, it should not be subject to any formal measures of what is news-worthy or in the public interest, as these are potentially subjective metrics and should be left for the public to decide.

  • 34
    mondo rock
    Posted November 15, 2011 at 1:39 pm | Permalink

    Someone was wrong on the internet, and I am correcting them.

    Given, SHV, that you haven’t once addressed the actual article and your contribution instead has consisted entirely of taking pot shots at me can I assume you’re doing exactly the same thing?

  • 35
    mondo rock
    Posted November 15, 2011 at 2:24 pm | Permalink

    However, If this is not to be the case, then I guess we are all to be regarded as suspects who are not so much innocent but merely ‘not guilty’ until proven otherwise.

    That’s an interesting perspective. I like our legal system the way it is – i.e. innocent until proven guilty – and I certainly wouldn’t advocate any changes to that, however you’re right that I interpret ‘innocent’ (when used in this context) to simply mean ‘not guilty under law’.

    So what do you see as the difference between a legal system that presumes innocence as opposed to one that presumes an absence of legal guilt? Aren’t they essentially the same thing?

  • 36
    cricketninja
    Posted November 15, 2011 at 2:53 pm | Permalink

    Now, I’m no lawyer but it would seem for all practical purposes one can only be either guilty or innocent and, as our legal system stipulates, not being the former automatically implies being the latter.
    Having some third limbo-like status does not appear in keeping with an impartial and non-prejudicial legal system.

    I have already identified a situation where a person can be guilty of an offence, but may not be convicted over the incident.

    I acknowledge that this is not a ‘third limbo-like status’, but I contend that the article makes no statement about Ms Gobbo’s guilt or innocence, simply that she was charged with an offence and may not have been convicted.

    based on potentially unlawful access to the police database

    Mr Campbell is as innocent of this alleged offence as you are. Full stop. You have NO basis for alleging that he is guilty of any crime.

    It’s disgusting speculation designed to smear him based on absolute pablum.

  • 37
    Posted November 15, 2011 at 2:57 pm | Permalink

    “I have already identified a situation where a person can be guilty of an offence, but may not be convicted over the incident.”

    In what way are they “guilty” of the offence if they have not been found so by a court of law? Says who?

    “I contend that the article makes no statement about Ms Gobbo’s guilt or innocence, simply that she was charged with an offence and may not have been convicted.”

    It made the clear inference that she had done something wrong. If it wasn’t saying that, then what was its point?

    “Mr Campbell is as innocent of this alleged offence as you are. Full stop. You have NO basis for alleging that he is guilty of any crime.

    It’s disgusting speculation designed to smear him based on absolute pablum.”

    I didn’t say HE had illegally accessed the police database. But whoever leaked that to him should certainly be investigated. They may well have committed a crime.

  • 38
    B.Tolputt
    Posted November 15, 2011 at 3:03 pm | Permalink

    Not bothering with you repeated claims regarding innocent vs not guilty. I disagree with you but having presented my side & you yours – we’re not going to agree. So as not to continue the derailment, I’m leaving it at that.

    Secondly, just FYI, “pedant” is not a synonym for “concern troll”. The two are vastly different concepts and I’m worried for you that you may be making yourself look stupid by using phrases and terminology without knowing what they actually mean.

    On this subject though, you are correct in your statement regarding them not being synonyms but without foundation in your “worry”. A concern troll can be a pedant and/or use pedantry to further their aims of “I agree but have concerns…” modus operandi. You fit exactly that bill, stating that you agree with the thrust of the article…

    I do appreciate the dangers of newspapers casually ‘mentioning’ unproved charges though and I understand where you’re coming from.

    …but have concerns with the use of the term innocent. In other words, you are acting like a concern troll using pedantry.

    See, I do actually consider what I write before tapping it out. ;)

  • 39
    mondo rock
    Posted November 15, 2011 at 3:23 pm | Permalink

    In what way are they “guilty” of the offence if they have not been found so by a court of law? Says who?

    Jeremy – lets say I have previously cultivated, posessed and distributed drugs. There are laws against these acts and I have contravened them, although I have never been convicted under those laws.

    How is it not correct to say that I am guilty of a crime? What’s your problem with my logic here?

  • 40
    cricketninja
    Posted November 15, 2011 at 3:26 pm | Permalink

    In what way are they “guilty” of the offence if they have not been found so by a court of law? Says who?

    It’s not too difficult. If John Doe pleads guilty of an offence, or is found guilty of an offence by the court, and the court declines to record a conviction, then you have a situation where John Doe is guilty but has not been convicted.

    It made the clear inference that she had done something wrong. If it wasn’t saying that, then what was its point?

    I don’t know.

    I didn’t say HE had illegally accessed the police database. But whoever leaked that to him should certainly be investigated. They may well have committed a crime.

    It made the clear inference that he had done something wrong. If it wasn’t saying that, then what was its point?

  • 41
    dogspear
    Posted November 15, 2011 at 3:40 pm | Permalink

    fuck me, my head hurts. “While I acknowledge that the Herald Sun are indefensibly arsehats and undeniably regurgitate shit to serve ridiculous vendettas, STOP BEING MEAN TO RUPERT IT’S ALL A VICIOUS LEFTIST THING”.

    The Hun are, and have long been, shitheads. Let it go, man. Smoke some pot and go fishing.

  • 42
    Howard,B.
    Posted November 15, 2011 at 3:40 pm | Permalink

    How is it not correct to say that I am guilty of a crime? What’s your problem with my logic here?

    As far as the public discussion goes, you are innocent. The law may be yet to catch up with you but until it does, you are innocent. Hell, the law may never catch-up with you at all, and you may, after commiting said offense, forever remain innocent, OJ style. Such is the system.
    I could have a tidy collection of human body parts in my fridge, but until such a time as a court finds me guilty of murder and dismemberment, I remain objectively innocent until proven otherwise.

  • 43
    Posted November 15, 2011 at 3:44 pm | Permalink

    ‘If John Doe pleads guilty of an offence, or is found guilty of an offence by the court, and the court declines to record a conviction, then you have a situation where John Doe is guilty but has not been convicted.”

    There is ZERO chance that would happen with a drug trafficking offence.

    Further, even if this was an offence where there could be a finding of guilt but no conviction, there is no evidence there was ever any finding of guilt against Ms Gobbo in the first place.

    “I don’t know.”

    You’re not alone in being unable to see an alternative purpose to that article than implying, quite wrongly, that she’s somehow guilty of a drug offence.

    “It made the clear inference that he had done something wrong. If it wasn’t saying that, then what was its point?”

    That there are serious questions to be asked about where Campbell’s source obtained that information. If there was wrongdoing, then it is recent and should be investigated in the public interest.

  • 44
    SHV
    Posted November 15, 2011 at 3:48 pm | Permalink

    No, not ‘correcting’ you. Marvelling at the contortions required to argue your corner.

    The post, as usual for PP, criticises a News Ltd smear job.

    The nub of the criticism (apart from the story being very old, the subject no longer in practice, the implication of smoke must = fire, and there being no public interest served by its telling) is that it wrongly suggests the target is ‘guilty’ (that’s using your definition, by the way) of a crime.

    You criticise the criticism of the smear piece on the basis that someone can be guilty of a crime even if not found guilty by a court. Various comments take that view to task and you say:

    Accuracy is important when constructing an argument. Probably not to you, granted, but to some of us.

    Which, in the circumstances, I found amusing. You take exception and respond:

    I have defend News Limited’s right to freely publish what it wants

    And also:

    I’m certainly not defending them for this story.

    Have I misunderstood your position?

  • 45
    returnedman
    Posted November 15, 2011 at 3:52 pm | Permalink

    How is it not correct to say that I am guilty of a crime?

    You can say what you like about yourself. No one’s stopping you.

    And if you’re wanting to use that as an analogy for the case being discussed here, then I’m quite willing to listen to whatever Nicola Gobbo has to say about the details of her own life – if it is of public interest (ie not where she went for dinner last night).

    I think the underlying point here is that it’s not for an outsider to start talking about these things if there’s no basis to their allegations.

  • 46
    cricketninja
    Posted November 15, 2011 at 3:56 pm | Permalink

    There is ZERO chance that would happen with a drug trafficking offence.

    Really?

    This source (granted it is NSW) indicates that there were 2 dealing/trafficking offences heard by the Local Court in 2002 where no conviction was recorded (and one import/export offence).

    http://www.parliament.nsw.gov.au/prod/parlment/publications.nsf/key/DrugOffencesAnUpdateonCrimeTrendsDiversionaryProgramsandDrugPrisons/$File/drug+crimes+and+index.pdf

  • 47
    mondo rock
    Posted November 15, 2011 at 4:11 pm | Permalink

    Lefty – I think you missed my question to you above.

    Do you now agree that someone can be guilty of a crime even in the absence of a conviction against them?

    B.Tolputt – you’re still not applying the term “concern troll’ correctly, but I’m an advocate for free speech so I won’t presume to try to stop your erroneous accusations any further.

  • 48
    Posted November 15, 2011 at 4:48 pm | Permalink

    “Do you now agree that someone can be guilty of a crime even in the absence of a conviction against them?”

    Who’s talking about “absence of a conviction”? In this case THERE IS NO FINDING OF GUILT. She HAS NOT BEEN FOUND GUILTY OF ANY OFFENCE. She was apparently charged with an offence, and then it was tested in the legal system with NO FINDING OF GUILT AGAINST HER.

    I don’t think you know what a “conviction” means. After a finding of guilt, the court may or may not record a “conviction”. That’s a slightly arbitrary aspect of punishment. But unless someone is dealt with by way of “diversion” – that I don’t think existed in 1993, and certainly would not have existed for a drug trafficking charge – then if they are found guilty of an offence then IT WILL BE RECORDED that they were found guilty of an offence.

    Which is not the case here.

    All you have succeeded in doing here is demonstrating how powerful a vacuous smear like Campbell’s is. Although Gobbo was not guilty of any offence, you’ve been trying her here as if she was.

    It’s very simple. If Gobbo is not guilty of any offence – and until someone shows us that she was, which they haven’t, probably because she wasn’t, then she’s entitled to the presumption of innocence. And once we grant her the presumption of innocence (to which we’re all entitled), then there should not be prominent “news” articles in the state’s largest tabloid pretending that being “charged” with an offence in 1993 is somehow relevant to the public’s understanding of her character.

  • 49
    fractious
    Posted November 15, 2011 at 5:05 pm | Permalink

    Jeremy @47,

    If Gobbo is not guilty of any offence – and until someone shows us that she was, which they haven’t, probably because she wasn’t, then she’s entitled to the presumption of innocence. And once we grant her the presumption of innocence (to which we’re all entitled), then there should not be prominent “news” articles in the state’s largest tabloid pretending that being “charged” with an offence in 1993 is somehow relevant to the public’s understanding of her character.

    …precisely.

    Certain commenters here can indulge in whatever speculation they want about the various states of guilt they perceive, but it amounts to nothing more than speculation. All of which reverts to the original question of why Campbell assembled the article in the first place, and why the HS saw fit to print it.

    Everything else is just hand-waving.

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  1. ...] Campbell – who was the same day also behind this foul and misleading character assassination of another private citizen based on potentially unlawful access to the police database – is tweeting angrily about The [...

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