We are all supposed to believe that everyone deserves a fair trial. Everyone has their day in court the saying goes.
We have heard all the arguments against trial by media, an argument I once wrote about at The Hoopla when comparing Craig Thomson’s woes with Lindy Chamberlains.
We are also supposed to believe in unbiased reporting in the main stream media. However somewhere along the way that seems to have gone a bit AWOL.
I’m not talking about shock jocks like Ray Hadley, and Paul Murray, or opinion writers like Miranda Devine, Andrew Bolt and Piers Ackerman, we all expect them to be big on mock outrage and light on fact. I am talking about news journalists and investigative journalists.
I would have thought that an unbiased journalist would want to see somebody in the public eye have the best defence possible in a trial that may as well be held at a stadium for the public interest it will carry.
That is why it is so intriguing to see Fairfax journalist Kate McClymont come out on the attack for attempts to obtain a decent defence for Craig Thomson.
Fairfax journalist Kate McClymont seems to have taken on the role of Kathy Jackson the last week or so. Kathy still needs a mouthpiece since she has either taken off overseas for her lavish wedding to FWA (now FWC) Vice President Michael Lawler, or has wisely decided to keep a low profile while under police investigation, something McClymont has chosen not to report on.
Desperately Seeking Mouthpiece?
McClymont’s public attacks on Thomson and attempts by others to help him raise funds for an adequate defence don’t exactly portray her in a neutral light. To the casual observer it would seem like she was out to get Thomson, to the curious onlooker it may even make them wonder why she has stuck her neck out so far.
I do not recall McClymont making any public comments regarding the assistance offered to James Ashby for his legal woes, or the assistance given to Kathy Jackson by Lawyers who are members of Liberal Party think tanks, apparently it is alright for them to seek outside assistance.
McClymont herself came out in defence of union thug and factional bully Marco Bolano during his failed election campaign against Diana Asmar.
McClymont told the story of Bolano’s girlfriend who was sick of all the horrible things people were saying about her boyfriend. It was a desperate plea for public sympathy from the woman seen in video’s standing next to Bolano as he involved himself in brawls at union meetings, even whilst she was pregnant.
Since the story of the fund that has been set up to assist Thomson with his legal defence broke on Wixxyleaks Kate McClymont has been on the warpath in a desperate bid to stop the public donating.
The Thomson Defence Fund site, which can be found here, was set up by two men who thought Thomson deserved a decent defence.
Hoping for a decent defence
Below is a ink to a video posted on Fairfax’s competitors site, the Daily Telegraph that shows McClymont attacking the fund and its creators.
Kate seems to think that its funny that a Labor Party supporter would set this fund up. Did she really think it would come from a Liberal supporter?
Kate also seemed to find it amusing that the account was set up in Bathurst, for what reason I don’t know, I’ve been there and didn’t find anything odd about the place.
One of the account holders Mark Worthington is the former Labor candidate for the Federal seat of Calare McClymont tells us in an arrogant smug tone.
McClymont needn’t have been so smug, it turns out she was completely wrong.
Back in the 70′s Worthington stood for a State seat, and has never stood for a Federal seat.
Appearing on Sydney radio station 2UE McClymont was adamant that those who wish to support Thomson in his bid for an adequate defence should not have that opportunity.
Instead, McClymont suggested that Thomson’s defence should be covered by the taxpayer. That would create the ironic situation of those in the media, and the opposition actually funding Thomson’s defence.
However although McClymont may have been keen on Thomson using the taxpayer funded Legal Aid scheme, as most people would realise someone on the salary of a Federal MP would not qualify for free legal support. McClymont seems to be so clouded in her judgement of Thomson that little things like facts, such as Legal Aid regulations, are of little consequence.
However, these are not the only times McClymont has been wrong regarding matters involving the HSU investigation.
After the vast majority of civil claims against Thomson by the Fair Work Commission, formerly FWA, were postponed in court, McClymont went on the attack on social media regarding an article published on Independent Australia, accusing them and myself of claiming the case had been “thrown out”.
Once again, this was completely incorrect as that claim was never made, however McClymont was reluctant to apologise for her error even after it was pointed out to her.
To her credit though McClymont won a Walkley Award for her article on the HSU case titled “Thomson: New Credit Card Claims”.
Given that being the article for which McClymont received the Walkley, I would expect it to be of the highest journalistic standards, and the most accurate of her many articles on the subject.
The article uses Craig Thomson’s name in the headline, although he hardly rates a mention in the article, instead it is based around printing supplier Communigraphix and Michael Williamson.
The article which was based around a “Herald Investigation” into rumours of credit cards from a printing supplier, Communigraphix being used to provide secret commissions.
“THE Labor MP Craig Thomson and the union leader Michael Williamson, who is on the ALP national executive, allegedly received secret commissions from a major supplier to their union.
The two men, both senior figures in the Health Services Union at the time, were provided with American Express cards by John Gilleland, who runs a graphic design business, a Herald investigation has found.”
McClymont offers no evidence to back her allegations of secret commissions, so I thought that this was worth looking into a bit.
I attempted to contact McClymont last week regarding any evidence she may have on this, and other aspects of the article regarding Communigraphix but have yet to receive a response.
It turns out that Communigraphix had actually supplied invoices to the HSU for these American Express Cards, some of the invoices can be seen via the link below, or viewed on our Jacksonville resource page.
Communigraphix Invoices Credit Card
So given all charges on these cards were invoiced, then that makes them neither secret, nor a commission according to the Crimes (Secret Commissions) Act linked below. In fact all expenditure on these cards was being paid by the union and the union would have then reported those expenses through the Australian Taxation Office.
CRIMES (SECRET COMMISSIONS) AMENDMENT ACT
I hope Fairfax has paid their defamation insurance premium, because accusing a firm of paying secret commissions based on what seems a sloppy investigation and a questionable source can be quite damaging.
Just add source
So who was the source? McClymont tells it like this in her article.
“At a HSU function this year Mr Gilleland’s wife, Carron, privately complained to senior union officials that Mr Williamson had ”run amok” with the credit card. According to one official, Mrs Gilleland said, ”He even paid his private school fees on it” and ”this was not part of the deal”.
The conversation as reported by McClymont never actually took place. There was a conversation however, and it was indeed in private but it was not as reported in McClymonts article.
The conversation was between the Gillelands and Jeff and Kathy Jackson whom at the time were close friends. It was in a hotel room at the end of a very long night after a HSU function.
The conversation was based around the Gillelands seeking advice from the Jackson’s as union officials.
So the officials quoted in the McClymont piece must be Kathy and Jeff Jackson, given they were the only union officials involved in the conversation, and the only other people in the room.
The conversation however could not have taken place in 2011 as reported in the article, as the Gilleland’s did not attend any union functions at all in 2011 according to them. Instead they date the conversation as taking place in the evening of 9th March 1999 after dinner at the HSU Annual Convention at the Novatel in Brighton-Le-Sands. Twelve years earlier and the previous century.
McClymonts claim that Mrs Gilleland complained about private school fees being charged on the card is another example of there being errors with the article. Williamson’s children did not attend a private school until the year 2000, so it would be a bit strange to be paying for a school that his children don’t attend. Besides that the cards in question were cancelled in March 1999 by the Gillelands.
It’s worth noting here that McClymont decided not to report on Kathy Jacksons child care being paid for by the union. Jackson had of course denied this in many interviews until the payment details were published on WixxyLeaks.
In her Walkley Award winning article, McClymont states:
“According to the HSU’s accounts for 2009-10, Mr Gilleland, 64, and Mrs Gilleland, 51, receive about $680,000 a year to produce 10 issues of the union’s newsletter, Health Standard.
These production figures were up to 10 times the amount other unions paid for similar things, industry sources said.
The couple’s company, Communigraphix, produces the newsletter from an office in their two-storey house at Palm Beach”
The “newsletter” McClymont refers to is actually a full gloss magazine that averages 48 pages. It had a print run of approximately 60,000 and was mailed to over 53,000 members. I struggle with the idea that any printing firm could produce what Communigraphix did for $6,800 as McClymont claimed her “industry sources” told her.
Even if the 10 issues quoted was correct, it was actually 11 issues, using McClymonts incorrect number would mean $6,800 for 60,000 copies of a 48 page gloss magazine. Even without the cost of mailing it to 53,000 separate addresses that figure seems highly unlikely. Who was her source for this comment, Merlin The Magician? In fact $680,000 was the figure quoted in the Temby Report as the amount Communigraphix earned in total, this also included other work.
McClymonts claims regarding Communigraphix appear to be full of mistakes such as school fee’s, full of ridiculous claims like her “industry source” pricing, and false claims chosen not to report on.
McClymont has repeatedly made these claims against the Communigraphix owners and has mentioned them in many of her articles. It is to be noted NSW Police have had the documentation regarding this for over a year and have not felt any need to lay charges, however that has not stopped McClymont defaming them throughout the Fairfax media.
So if one of Australia’s leading investigative journalists could get things so wrong, it begs the question “How could this happen?”
The thing that jumps out at me is the witness or witnesses she seems to take the word of without any evidence to back it up.
Kathy Jackson as we all know is currently under police investigation for serious allegations of fraud and the theft of union funds, another thing McClymont chooses not to report on.
Jeff Jackson has not contested FWA charges including fraud and is appearing in court soon to have his fines handed to him, details are on the below link to a FWA Media Release, and FWA Investigation.
FWA media release HSU 19 Sep 2012
FWA Investigation in Vic No.1 Branch – Final Report – March 2012
These include visits to brothels on a union credit card as I have reported in previous articles and posted the evidence that supports it. You may also remember that Kathy Jackson said there had never been any previous cases of a union card being used at brothels prior to allegations against Thomson.
This was clearly a lie as her ex husband has not contested charges of just that, and is about to be fined for it in court.
Jeff Jackson Credit Card Details
Jeff Jackson Card Summary
Jeff Jackson’s “running amok” on a union credit card including brothel visits is yet another aspect of the case McClymont has chosen to ignore, in the interest of balance perhaps?
In a case as complicated as this one, I feel it is vitally important to have the documentation to back up your case, rather than relying on the word of questionable witnesses who as in the case above, have clearly lied repeatedly. This is why I created a page on my site that has all of the documentation to back my articles. In contrast the evidence Fairfax used of the questionable “Thompson with a P” credit card slips has actually been removed from Fairfax’s websites, presumably in shame.
As I mentioned earlier I have tried to contact Kate McClymont regarding issues raised in this article, but as of publication have not received a response.
If McClymont’s award-winning article could be this wrong, I also wonder about the accuracy of her other articles on the subject.
My hope is that the McClymont article is just down to poor investigation, and a bad choice of witness rather than some kind of personal vendetta or vested interest.
Given McClymont’s current behaviour however many have stated they are not so sure.
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