Quote of the week

Although judicial proceedings will generally be bound by the requirements of natural justice to a greater degree than will hearings before administrative tribunals, judicial decision-makers, by virtue of their positions, have nonetheless been granted considerable deference by appellate courts inquiring into the apprehension of bias. This is because judges ‘are assumed to be [people] of conscience and intellectual discipline, capable of judging a particular controversy fairly on the basis of its own circumstances’: The presumption of impartiality carries considerable weight, for as Blackstone opined at p. 361 in Commentaries on the Laws of England III . . . ‘[t]he law will not suppose possibility of bias in a judge, who is already sworn to administer impartial justice, and whose authority greatly depends upon that presumption and idea’. Thus, reviewing courts have been hesitant to make a finding of bias or to perceive a reasonable apprehension of bias on the part of a judge, in the absence of convincing evidence to that effect.

L'Heureux-Dube and McLachlin JJ
Livesey v The New South Wales Bar Association [1983] HCA 17; (1983) 151 CLR 288
17 July 2008

Ronald Suresh Roberts may be a plagiarist says Press Ombudsman

The Press Ombudsman panel dismissed a complaint by Ronald Suresh Roberts (also known as Robert Kevin Roberts) against The Weekender newspaper this week. The paper reported late last year that Roberts had been charged with plagiarism by Aids denialist Anthony Brink for lifting passages from Brink’s unpublished book and using it in his “biography” of President Thabo Mbeki, Fit to Govern.

Roberts was particularly upset by the poster of the newspaper titled Suresh Roberts caught cribbing because, he argued, it elevated the claims by Brink to the status of fact. The Press Ombudsman panel rejected his argument, stating that it was a fair reflection of the story and that the story was fair.

Significantly The Weekender editor, Peter Bruce, argued that this was so because the:

The Weekender believes that the publication was true or at least that they reasonably believed the facts to be true. The evidence appears on a balance of probabilities in relation to the plagiarism charge to bear fruit. The same applies to the billboard.” Bruce repeated this at the hearing: “The poster was true – he (Roberts) is a plagiarist.”

The Ombudsman panel found in favour of the newspaper, in effect endorsing the view of the newspaper that Roberts is a plagiarist.

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