The case of Sydney property developer Salim Mehajer who has been charged with assault of a television journalist highlights the necessity for regulation of media behaviour, particularly television crews, in the vicinity of Courts generally including Queensland Courts.

Mehajer has been charged with assault occasioning actual bodily harm over an incident that occurred in April 2017 when he fronted a central city police station in relation to an allegation of assaulting a taxi driver.

On leaving the police station television footage shows Mehajer getting into a taxi which was surrounded by a group of reporters.  As a result of this the taxi driver refused to take Mehajer as a passenger and a journalist then started asking questions of Mehajer through the open taxi window.

Mehajer was ordered out of the taxi by a police officer who had been monitoring the situation after the taxi driver apparently declined to drive him further because of the media scrum that surrounded the taxi.

Mehajer then called a friend to pick him up and on entering the friend’s car journalists then fired various questions at Mehajer namely whether he had “hit rock bottom” and whether he had “no mates” or “no chauffeur to pick you up”.

Mehajer responded to media questions while sitting in his friend’s car saying “will you have some respect.  I am on the phone”.

Mehajer then closed the door of his friend’s car with considerable force and the journalist’s arm was caught in the process.

While the Sydney Magistrate has to hand down a decision on the charge, what happened to Mehajer is repeated at Courts around the country on a weekly and often more frequent basis.

Last year a defendant left the Brisbane Supreme Court having been sentenced on a quite serious charge and was pursued up the street.  On available reports he maintained a stony face and refused to respond to a number of provocative media questions.  Having been pursued more than 100 metres up the road from the Court a television journalist then fell over as he was walking backwards intrusively filming the defendant.  At that stage the defendant laughed and the picture of his laughter was then posted in the media as a flippant reaction to his Court sentencing prompting the usual suspects to call for an appeal against his sentence because of his apparent flippancy.

Aggressive confrontation and highly intrusive questioning of defendants as they leave criminal Courts has become a real problem and if the media do not start regulating themselves there is a case for government regulation of media in the vicinity of Courts.

While the media should be free to report Court proceedings aggressive and provocative and often downright insulting questions that are asked by media representatives of defendants as they walk up the street from Court are becoming increasingly prevalent.

If the media cannot regulate itself in its increasingly unacceptable behaviour in the vicinity of Courts then the State must step in to control the situation.