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Posted by Raymond Hoser on November 02, 2001 at 16:32:36:
Corruption author faces jail
The paper Edition 023
Corruption Author faces Jail
Raymond Hoser, a leading author on corruption within government departments such as the NSW Parks and Wildlife Services, and the Victorian Taxi Directorate, VicRoads, and Victoria Police, has been charged by the Victorian Attorney-General, Mr Rob Hulls, under an obscure law, of contempt by scandalising the Court.
If found guilty, Mr Hoser, faces possible sentences of an unlimited fine, possible bankruptcy, and an unlimited period of imprisonment. Mr Hoserís publishing company, Kotabi Pty Ltd, has also been charged and faces possible insolvency, if found guilty.
The charges stem from the publication by Mr Hoser of Victoria Police Corruption Volumes 1 and 2. In his books, Mr Hoser describes many incidents of corruption within the Victorian Police Force, the Victorian Government and in the Victorian legal and judicial system. He defines corruption to be ďan illegal, immoral, inconsistent, unethical or dishonest action.Ē.
The charges of contempt allege that he has committed a contempt of court by scandalising the court. Scandalising the court is the publication of anything that impairs the publicís confidence in the administration of justice, or lowers the authority of the Courts in the minds of the public. The allegations of contempt concern the references in the books to the conduct of a number of former and serving County Court judges and magistrates. Contempt of Court by scandalising is, despite the power of the Court to imprison, not a criminal offence. It is heard in the Courtís civil, not criminal, jurisdiction, and is governed by laws of civil procedure not criminal procedure. There is no right to a trial by jury as there is in criminal proceedings.
Until the end of 1999, these books were sold to the public at major bookstores. In November 1999, a Mr Anthony Zocolli, a person named in Mr Hoserís book, sued Mr Hoser and his publishing company for defamation. In February 2000, in an effort to stop the distribution of the books, Mr Zoccoli wrote to the Attorney-General, Mr Rob Hulls, requesting that Mr Hoser be charged with contempt of court as the books ďscandaliseĒ the Court. Mr Hulls gave a non-committal response to the suggestion. Perhaps this was because Mr Hulls, whilst in opposition, knew very well of Mr Hoser and his books and encouraged Mr Hoser in selling his books.
Nonetheless, Mr Zoccoli continued to stop distribution by seeking an interim injunction against Mr Hoser from distributing the books whilst the defamation case was pending. The case was heard by Mr Justice Gillard in April 2000. Mr Zoccoliís lawyers pushed for the injunction and included as evidence the correspondence between Mr Zoccoli and the Attorney-General. They suggested that the books were a contempt of court. Justice Gillard dismissed the application for an interim injunction on the grounds that there had been delay of some 5 months in seeking the injunction, and that if the books did defame Mr Zoccoli, he could be properly compensated by money.
Following this judgment, Mr Zoccoli dropped the defamation proceedings against Mr Hoser.
The Victorian Government Solicitor then contacted the major booksellers and distributors in June 2000 claiming that the books were a contempt of court by scandalising. The Solicitor threatened legal action, including charges of contempt, if the distribution was not halted. Not suprisingly, the major booksellers buckled under the pressure and withdrew the books from sale. However, the books must have been of sufficient academic worth for Mr Hullís librarian to order a copy for the Department of Justiceís library in July 2000.
However, in May this year, Mr Hoser and Kotabi Pty Ltd were served the contempt proceedings, some 15 months after Mr Zoccoli first complained to Mr Hulls. These charges currently being heard in the Supreme Court of Victoria before a trial by Judge alone. At the time of writing, the case had been adjourned until Tuesday 30th October.
In general, the mainstream media organisations have not bothered to report on this disturbing attack on the freedom of free speech and discussion of matters of public importance. It appears that those organisations with the resources to effectively challenge this attack on free speech have all buckled.
It appears that only independent media organisations, publishers and authors, who hold dear such principles of freedom of speech, freedom of discussion of matters of public importance, and exposure of corruption and wrongdoing are the real targets of Mr Hulls. Mr Hulls, whilst in opposition, championed the rights of whistleblowers. It seems that he only supports whistleblowers of opposing governments, not his own.
The public has a right to know of corruption. It has an even more important right to know of any attempt to stifle exposure of that corruption.
At the time of going to press, all evidence in the case had been submitted. The presiding judge felt he could not reach a verdict until he had considered all the evidence. This is not expected to occur for at least a month.