The final two parts of a New Zealand Law Journal paper on the planning around media coverage of the sentencing of Christchurch terrorist Brenton Harrison Tarrant can now be published here.
The study, which I co-authored with Dr Denis Muller of Melbourne University, examined the extensive efforts that went into preserving fair trial rights while preventing victims being retraumatised and the court becoming a stage for white supremacist rhetoric.
It found the efforts of the court, officials, experts, and the media were groundbreaking and offer valuable lessons for how the justice system and the media deal with violent extremists.
The first two parts have already been made available on the website but, for convenience, all four parts are set out below.
While you read this, I will be enjoying my first holiday since Covid hit our shores. So I have cheated…just a little. In place of the Tuesday Commentary, here is a speech I gave last week to combined North Shore Rotary clubs.
No matter where you were, the horrendous attacks on innocent worshippers at two Christchurch mosques in March 2019 made the front page of newspapers and led television and radio bulletins.
Those acts and others like them have affected our journalism but, before I get into the detail of those events, I want to talk about motivation, and the awful dilemma that terrorism presents for journalists.
The man accused of the Christchurch mosque attacks initially pleaded not guilty to all charges. What followed was an extraordinary level of planning by the judiciary, court officials, security services, and a wide range of interests including the media.
Fair trial rights had to be balanced with a need to avoid re-traumatising victims, their families, and the wider community. There was also a determination to prevent the court becoming a stage for white extremist propaganda.
The accused changed his plea but the imperatives in the planning did not change. His sentencing hearing was conducted with unprecedented levels of control over media coverage.
In the second part of a paper, co-authored with Dr Denis Muller of Melbourne University and published by the New Zealand Law Journal, we detail the pre-trial planning, the efforts to keep victims and families informed, and the part played by media executives.
The paper has been subject to a six-month copyright stand-down period required by the New Zealand Law Journal’s publisher. Part 1 was posted here at the beginning of February. Part 2 can be accessed below. The remaining parts will be posted on The Knightly Views at the beginning of April and May.
In the latter part of last year the New Zealand Law Journal published a four-part paper on ground-breaking processes introduced for the sentencing of the Christchurch mosque gunman in 2020.
The paper, which I co-authored with Dr Denis Muller of Melbourne University, found that high levels of institutional trust between New Zealand media organisations and the justice system were instrumental in denying the terrorist any opportunity to use the proceedings as a soapbox for white supremacist beliefs.
The paper has been subject to a six-month copyright stand-down period required by the New Zealand Law Journal’s publisher. That restriction no longer applies to Part 1 and you can access it below. The remaining parts will be posted at the beginning of March, April and May.