Monday, May 24, 2010

This stinks

This afternoon, a senior public servant was acquitted by a jury of assaulting his son. Unusually, the judge then ordered his interim name suppression to be made permanent to protect his career.

This stinks. Ordinary people accused of a crime have to face the glare of publicity, regardless of the effects on their career. That's part and parcel of open justice. But in this case, the accused received special treatment. Name suppression was not necessary to protect the identity of the victim. It was not necessary to protect the interests of justice and avoid contaminating the jury pool for a future trial. It was done solely to protect a powerful man from the consequences of his actions.

I know who this man is and what he does. And while his behaviour was not proven to a criminal standard, the witness reports are sufficient to give rise to grave concerns about his ability to do his job fairly and impartially. This name suppression is an attempt to quash those concerns, to sweep it all under the rug. There are sometimes good reasons for name suppression, but this is not one of them. It is simply a case of the powerful protecting their own.