AAAAAND THEY FOLD – Sort of. Greg Hunt, Alan Tudge and Michael Sukkar have withdrawn, but not apologised for, their comments about what they saw as too soft an approach by Victorian judges to sentencing terrorists. “The Australian”, which published their comments, apologised to the court. We’ll have to wait and see if the Victorian Supreme Court is satisfied with this backdown.

In the Supreme Court on Friday, Victoria’s Chief Justice, Marilyn Warren, said the three ministers should be held to account in the “strongest terms”, but their comments would not sway the court.

“The public should understand this is not the end of the matter,” she said…

The Australian made a “full and sincere apology” for publishing the article although the newspaper’s lawyer, William Houghton, QC, sought to distance the publication from the debacle.

“Don’t shoot the messenger,” he said.

Chief Justice Warren replied: “Mr Houghton, this is a serious matter. This is not a matter for jocularity”…

The hearing spent a lot of time consider whether the ministers’ comments amounted to “scandalising the court”…

Justice Weinberg asked Mr Houghton whether The Australian would have published a story where judges were alleged to have been bribed and corrupt.

“It would depend on the context,” he answered.

“Is that a serious answer?” the judge responded.

Yes, it is a serious answer, if there was, in the eyes of the editors and their legal advisers, sufficient evidence to back such a story. Just because you studied law, think you’re smarter than anyone else, and have been appointed by a government to sit in judgment of others, doesn’t mean you’re special, unique, and beyond criticism. Certainly, you’re no different to a politician, a senior public servant, or a police officer – much less, say, a business person.

I respectfully dissent from the court’s judgment about its self-importance. And I sincerely apologise if it scandalises the court.

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