Media Release – Terry O’Gorman, Vice-President of QCCL

The media need to behave responsibly and not reveal Robert Fardon’s address or whereabouts, otherwise Queensland will have a repeat of the Dennis Ferguson vigilante scenario of 2005 where Ferguson was driven out of Queensland towns and suburbs on his release from jail.

Civil Liberties Council Vice-President Terry O’Gorman said that the media gag order made last week for 7 days by the Queensland Supreme Court was to allow Fardon to be housed in the community without attracting vigilante activity.

As Justice Bowskill said in her Judgment “The main challenge facing the respondent [Fardon] is the media scrutiny he attracts which in turn may make his transition into ordinary life, in particular finding somewhere to live, difficult.”

Mr O’Gorman said that Justice Bowskill’s comments echo similar observations made by three Judges in the Queensland Court of Appeal in 2006 where each of the members of the Court commented on the impact of media and public scrutiny on Fardon when he was then being considered for release.

The Court of Appeal then said “It is to be hoped that our community is responsible enough to recognise these considerations and not make it more difficult for the respondent to rehabilitate himself.”

Mr O’Gorman also praised Queensland Police Commissioner Ian Stewart for his much needed leadership on the Fardon issue when he said “The system that we run as a State is one that is designed to assist people to make better decisions, to become members of our society that don’t offend – and that’s what is occurring in this case”.

Mr O’Gorman said that the Fardon hype over the last 24 hours ignores the important consideration that Police can apply for a further order against Fardon, including GPS tracking, if they believe Fardon is displaying “concerning conduct” as well as “precursor or preparatory behaviours” they believe could lead to offences against children.

Mr O’Gorman warned the media and vigilantes of the risk of contempt of Court action if Dennis Ferguson type behaviour is engaged in against Fardon.

Mr O’Gorman referred to yesterday’s published Decision of Justice Bowskill where she observed:

“Although there may be an argument about whether persons, who are not parties to this proceeding … are bound by the non publication order … conduct outside the Courtroom which deliberately frustrates the effect of an order made to enable a Court to act effectively within its jurisdiction may constitute a contempt of Court.”

The Civil Liberties Council will closely watch vigilante and associated media attention on Fardon and will immediately refer any potential contempt action by vigilantes or representatives of the media to the Queensland Attorney-General for necessary prosecution.

 

Mr O’Gorman can be contacted during business hours on 07 3034 0000 or after hours on 0418 787182