Trial by media has no place in upholding justice in Hey Dad case - ALA

10th Aug 2012

The Australian Lawyers Alliance is today urging restraint on the part of the media and the alleged victims of former Hey Dad star Robert Hughes, following prejudicial comments in the media that could impinge on Mr Hughes right to a fair trial.

“Comments such as that of former Hey Dad co-star, Sarah Monahan, who last night tweeted that she was, ‘crying with happiness right now’, following the news of Hughes arrest and ‘Wow, it's 3am here and my twitter box is exploding’….

Then, Derryn Hinch’s contribution, ‘Without Sarah Monahan’s bravery in going public never would have happened. Thinking of her tonight.’

And others saying they were, ‘creeped out about the dad from Hey Dad being a paedophile’, do nothing to advance true justice,” ALA National President, Tony Kerin, said.

“It is extremely important that Mr Hughes fundamental right to the presumption of innocence be maintained. Trial by media or trial by alleged victims has no place in facilitating justice,” he said.

ALA National Director and barrister, Greg Barns, agreed.

“It needs to be understood that the undermining of the presumption of innocence through comments in media outlets such as Facebook and Twitter could lead to Mr Hughes lawyers applying for a stay of trial based on the volume and content of media commentary being of such an overwhelming nature that his right to a fair trial is being severely undermined.

"Whilst one can understand that people who believe that they have been the subject of a criminal action are understandably emotional, it is important that they, and their supporters, recognise that Mr Hughes is entitled to his presumption of innocence and his right to a fair trial.

"Indeed, it is in the interest of all that such a process is not derailed,” Mr Barns said.

Tags: Human rights Access to justice Criminal justice