Thursday, 11 September 2008

Belinda Neal's right to silence

Think what you like, but she does have a point, you know.


Michael Kellahan said...

she may have a right to silence under criminal law but as a public official in a public place she said things that allegedly were criminal and will bring electoral consequences
the media were well within their rights to challenge her credibility

Gordon Cheng said...

Hey Mike,

I think the problem is more with the insistence that she speak to the police, including from Kevin Rudd. She didn't have to, and she shouldn't have been required to. That will bring its own backlash, and many would say rightly so. But as to the judicial process itself, she is within her rights to remain silent and that's not something the media should be eroding.

Michael Kellahan said...

I think Rudd & the media & the voting public can ask for her to give what she can't be compelled to under criminal law. An analogy would be an employment situation like theft in the workplace, or say a minister accused of a criminal act.
While the employee or the minister can claim a right to silence and a presumption of innocence before the criminal court, that doesn't mean there is an obligation on the employer or a journalist reporting on the minister to be content with that. They can ask for what they don't have a right to. If she doesn't give it they & we can form judgements about her, and take actions against her - even if a court would not convict her. If they go too far she could sue them for defamation (or in the employee eg for wrongful dismissal)
I want a PM who holds his colleagues & ministers to higher ethical standards.
These are good days for lawyers

Gordon Cheng said...

The situation with the Kevmeister is complicated by his role as PM.

I accept that an employer can ask for more than the law itself requires, but the other thing a Prime Minister should be doing in my view is upholding the legal rights of people accused of wrongdoing. Unless he's come into power saying 'I believe we need to review the legal right to silence', then he should exercise what some might see as excessive caution with regard to longstanding legal rights.

The media and voting public are free to say whatever they want in this case, and they have. But it is good to see that the SMH will allow at least someone (even if it is a potential defendant) to argue the RTSAPOI (Right to Silence and Presumption of Innocence).

Michael Kellahan said...

A better example? If you were accused of bigamy - would you try pleading your right to silence with Fiona or your church or even Sydney Anglican media. If you did what would she/we think?

The thing that makes a difference is the relationship you are in with people.

Like it or not, Joe Public is in relationship with an MP. Its not as close as marriage so you can't ask as much of it.

And no, we should never remove the right to silence in criminal law.

Now stop wasting time with silly comments like mine here, and tell us what you think of Driscoll's call to reform Sydney

Gordon Cheng said...

Hey Mike

Only time for fragments at the moment, and I want to give Driscoll a proper go so am going to hold off until next week on that.

Yeah sure, Joe/Jo Public can say whatever they want within the libel laws, no argument there.