Scurrilous journalism award
At least it cost the lying media a bundle. Dr Laming has an account here telling how grievously the media lie hurt him. He shares there what it's like be the centre of a media stitch-up. Australia's defamation laws have their problems, but in Laming's case they ensured that some justice has been done him.
Had the journalists concerned just checked with Laming before rushing into print the story would never have been published -- as it was an easily refuted story.
But the opportunity of sliming a prominent conservativre was just too juicy to miss. Leftists hate those dreadful conservatives who keep puncturing their balloons so horror stories about conservatives seem obviously correct to them
The contentious entry criteria for the Walkley Awards could be overhauled as part of the independent review into a reporting prize given to a since-discredited story about former federal MP Andrew Laming.
Last Wednesday, Dr Laming won a defamation case against Nine in relation to one key element of its award-winning report, after the network accepted that it was untrue.
On Friday evening, the foundation directors announced a review into the Walkley Award won earlier this year by Nine journalists Peter Fegan and Rebeka Powell for their March 2021 reports about Dr Laming, one of which falsely claimed the then politician had committed the criminal act of “upskirting” – taking a sexually intrusive photograph of someone without their permission.
In one of three reports about Dr Laming’s alleged misconduct in March last year, Nine quoted a witness who said he’d seen the MP take an inappropriate “upskirting” photo of a female staff member while she was stacking a bar fridge at her Brisbane workplace.
The woman was wearing shorts, not a skirt, at the time. The photo was deleted before anyone from Nine could view it. Dr Laming was questioned by police about the alleged incident, but was never charged.
Dr Laming has always strenuously denied any wrongdoing in relation to the matter.
Fegan and Powell won the 2021 Walkley Award in the television/video news reporting category for their report on Dr Laming’s alleged misconduct; the pair also won a Clarion (at the Queensland media awards) for their investigation into the MP.
In its statement on Friday, the Walkley Foundation said it would commission an independent review of the “particular award” given to Fegan and Powell, but it is widely expected that the review will also scrutinise the wider issue of whether journalism that is the subject of ongoing legal proceedings should have caveats attached as part of its conditions of entry.
Currently, entries for major journalism awards in Australia, such as the Walkleys, require a disclosure if the reporting is the subject of ongoing legal action.
But there are no rules governing the overturning of awards if subsequent legal action finds the story to be untrue, as was the case with the Laming “upskirting” claim.
Dr Laming has claimed that Walkley organisers had known for “nearly a year” of his complaint that a story submitted for the awards had made “baseless” upskirting claims against him.
Dr Laming told The Australian on Sunday that he wants to play a key role in the review. “Through my lawyers I have notified the Walkley Foundation that I wish to submit materials to it for their consideration,” he said.
Dr Laming is unhappy that the Walkleys – which he describes as “Australian journalism’s highest honour” – lent weight to the Nine story by publicising comments that lauded the story when it won the prize.
“The comments made by the judges at that time lauding the network and journalists for their work in the face of ‘legal pushback’ is hard to reconcile with the complete abandonment of Nine’s defences and its subsequent unconditional public retraction and apology to me,” he said.
“Despite being on notice at the time of a legal dispute and the waves of retractions, apologies by others over republications of Nine’s story, the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance (which oversees both the Walkleys and the Clarion Awards) persisted with both a state and a federal award – and as of right now, even despite announcing a review, they continue to refuse to rescind what is now an award for effectively a story that been withdrawn, deleted and has been accepted by all as a work of fiction.”
Dr Laming said that he initially made allegations to the MEAA in October last year.
“We first notified the MEAA of baseless allegations in the Nine TV news story in October 2021, so they have been made aware of our complaint for nearly a year,” he said. “The MEAA would know that Nine publicly abandoned its unmeritorious truth and honest opinion defences last month, and in my view, from that moment the awards … became completely untenable.”
Dr Laming says he has so far received no response to a letter he addressed to Walkley Foundation chief executive Shona Martyn last week. He asserted in the letter that the Walkleys needed to do more than simply leave it in the hands of award recipients to return them.
“There is already sufficient evidence at hand to rescind the award, and leaving it in the hands of recipients to return awards is weak,” he wrote. “By continuing to promote these awards, the Walkley Committee further harms my reputation through imputation that the stories were true. Nine now admits they were not, and these court documents are public.”
He concluded his letter to the Walkleys: “I reserve my rights in this regard.”
Dr Laming’s former LNP colleague James McGrath has also written to the Walkley Foundation, calling for Nine’s award to be withdrawn.
“The broadcaster has admitted the allegations against Dr Laming were untrue,” Senator McGrath wrote.
“Why haven’t you withdrawn the Walkley Award from Ch9? In light of the above admission from Ch9 I ask you to withdraw the associated Walkley Award.
“If you are not prepared to withdraw I would ask you justify your reasoning.”
Despite repeated requests from The Australian for further clarification around the parameters of the independent review, the Walkley Foundation declined to comment.
Nine also declined to comment.
The terms of Dr Laming’s settlement with Nine, which included an apology, were confidential but the network is understood to be liable for more than $1m in damages and legal costs.
In its apology, which was read to the court, Nine said: “9News unreservedly withdraws those allegations about Dr Laming and apologises to him and his family for the hurt and harm caused by the report.”