Culture

Media Who Reported On George Pell’s Guilty Verdict Will Face Trial For Contempt Next Year

Outlets will face dozens of charges related to their coverage of George Pell's conviction in 2018.

Media outlets and journalists will be forced to defend themselves in court next year over the way they reported on George Pell’s sexual abuse conviction.

In 2018, Pell was convicted of sexually abusing two choirboys, a conviction that has since been overturned.

Journalists were banned from covering Pell’s trial because he was expected to face further sexual abuse charges, and there were concerns future jurors would be prejudiced by the expected media firestorm. The suppression order was lifted after the second case was dropped due to a lack of evidence.

In December 2018, a number of media outlets published stories about a high-profile Australian being convicted of a serious crime — without naming Pell or specifying the charge. He was however named by a number of overseas outlets, meaning anyone with internet access could find out the details.

A number of media outlets, journalists, and editors were charged with contempt for breaching suppression orders after his guilty verdict was handed down. Today, Justice John Dixon refused to throw out the case against them, despite lawyers for the media organisations arguing there was a “devastating, bazooka-size hole” in it.

Outlets named include the Herald and Weekly Times, Nationwide News, Nine Entertainment, Advertiser Newspapers, Allure Media, and Mamamia.com.

They initially faced 100 charges relating the breaching reporting rules — 13 were withdrawn last month, and Justice Dixon dismissed another eight today.

They will now face trial on January 28.