Court Told Of Four Corners’ Malicious Intent

15 March 2007 Media Release

The NSW Supreme Court heard today that Everest mountaineer Tim Macartney-Snape and science author Jeremy Griffith were misled into participating in a 1995 ABC-TV Four Corners program.

Opening submissions from Kieran Smark, barrister for the two men, continued today in their defamation case against the ABC being heard before Justice David Kirby.

Mr Smark said there were several key incidents that occurred in the preparation for the defamatory broadcast which revealed guest producer Reverend David Millikan’s malicious intent.

“In an inquisitional style interview, marked by the presence of bright hot lights on Griffith, it became clear, which hadn’t been clear until this time, that the leopard had not changed his spots and that David Millikan was still unrepentantly adverse and hostile to Jeremy Griffith’s ideas,” he said.

Reverend Millikan’s comments following a letter of concern from Mr Griffith to the ABC were also alleged to reflect his animosity towards the plaintiffs.

Mr Smark said unused film footage recorded Reverend Millikan saying, “the letter he [Griffith] wrote to us [ABC] on Monday had a sort of threatening tone to it and he’s obviously opening up the possibility of taking us on legally and maybe trying to injunct the program or something like that which I would relish. It would cost him a lot of money and get him absolutely nowhere. And open up the possibility of us to use the sort of legal mechanisms to harass him.”

Mr Smark described the consequences of the ABC Four Corners program for Mr Macartney-Snape and his speaking career as “dramatic and immediate”.

“The impact for Mr Griffith was no less devastating. He was overwhelmed by negative responses.”

Mr Smark went on to criticise the ABC’s failure to apologise despite two recommendations from the Australian Broadcasting Authority in the years following the broadcast.

He said the terms of an ‘apology’ to Mr Macartney-Snape tabled in Court by the ABC on 15 February 2007, almost 12 years after the program and less than a month before the trial began, did not retract the imputations against Mr Macartney-Snape and was in fact a further aggravation.

Following submissions, the plaintiffs called California-based Professor Walter Hartwig, a biological anthropologist and the editor of The Primate Fossil Record (2002), a definitive reference work on human/primate evolution, who gave evidence as to the standard of Mr Griffith’s work.

Mr Smark foreshadowed further experts would be called tomorrow, including Professor of psychology, Scott Churchill from the University of Dallas and Emeritus Professor Harry Prosen, former president of the Canadian Psychiatric Association.

The case continues tomorrow at the Supreme Court at Darlinghurst.


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