Thursday, September 15, 2011

The Carl Williams and Paul Dale “explosive allegation”

The Herald-Sun’s banner headline (as at 7pm this evening) links to a story that was well and truly first off the blocks in the media race to publish, being first posted at 12:43pm today. The suppression order relating to the underlying facts was lifted only an hour or so earlier (11:35am is my estimate). The relatively tardy Age counterpart story (first posted around 2:30pm today) perhaps concedes its beta-dog status in today’s race by running the “explosive” adjective only in the sub-heading/“precede” between byline and story body. I missed most of this evening’s TV news coverage of this story, but the 7pm ABC TV news, for one, certainly chimed in with the “explosive” adjective.

Call me retentive, rather than “explosive”, but I would have thought that the money-shot of today’s revelations has been on the public record since at least 21 April this year, when Age journo John Silvester wrote:

“There is only one crime on the books in Victoria that could help [Tony] Mokbel cut a deal and that is the 2004 murders of the police informer Terence Hodson and his wife Christine. The key target in that investigation remains the former drug squad sergeant Paul Dale, a charge he denies. Police would have alleged Dale paid Carl Williams $150,000 for the hit. However the case collapsed when Williams was killed in prison last year”.

In case you missed it back in April (for there were no banner headlines, or mainstream media follow-ups), or otherwise need convincing that what John Silvester wrote then was merely the whiskers on a cat that was out of the bag well and truly by then, you can read my December 2010 post here (also links to previous posts). I’ll also re-iterate here that the bare bones of this information – viz Carl Williams was to have been a key witness in Dale’s trial for the Hodson murders – was on the public record, albeit in disseminated snippets and coded language, within one week of Williams’ murder in April 2010.

As to what this means for the future, current legal proceedings against Matthew Johnson make it unwise for me to comment further at the moment. If you are following these proceedings in the media, make sure you look out for AAP journo Mike Hedge’s byline. Hedge has at least twice included salient facts from the Matthew Johnson proceedings that no other journo – as opposed to media group – has covered. Thus, today he points out that the suppression order in question was actually only about 24 hours old (next URL). Again, further comment on this intriguing fact is a legal minefield, so I won't.

I make the journo vs media-group distinction because the SMH has run with Hedge’s coverage, and not the lesser-quality coverage of its Age sibling journo Andrea Petrie. Yes, as well as having the harbour and Opera House, Sydney also does Melbourne news stories better than Melbourne, apparently. Oh, and Hedge didn’t use the e-word in his 5:39pm today daily summary, either.

Talking of repetition, I’ll finish this post with the boilerplate legal prophylactic (I think, or maybe it’s just an old wives’ tale) that:

Matthew Johnson’s trial, before Justice Lex Lasry, is continuing.

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