A rogue blogger who named two women accused of having affairs with Network Seven boss Tim Worner has been jailed for four months for contempt of court, after a judge found his conduct “borders on obsession”.
In a judgment delivered on Thursday, Supreme Court Justice Ian Harrison said Shane Dowling “flagrantly” and “enthusiastically” breached non-publication orders in naming the women on his website.
Blogger Shane Dowling is serving a four-month prison sentence for contempt.
He was led from the court in handcuffs by three corrective services officers.
The women, given the pseudonyms Jane Doe 1 and 2, were named in court documents during the height of the legal battle between Mr. Worner and his former lover Amber Harrison.
Seven West Media chief executive Tim Worner. Photo: Ben Rushton
The women strenuously denied the allegations and their names were suppressed by the court ahead of their defamation proceedings.
Supreme Court Justice Ian Harrison found Dowling guilty on March 15 of contempt of court after he flouted court orders to remove the names of the women from his website and refrain from re-publishing the allegations.
The court heard Dowling had published fresh stories naming the women as recently as July 15.
During the sentencing on Thursday, Justice Harrison told Dowling: “If you are currently publishing matters on your phone … I’d ask you to stop.”
“OK then,” Dowling replied.
Justice Harrison said Dowling had “deliberately set out to disobey” the court’s orders.
He said Dowling appeared to see himself as a “fierce proponent of free speech” and was “ferociously committed to the righteousness” of his views.
Justice Harrison said Dowling’s “enthusiasm for the cause as he perceives it borders on obsession” but he was “nonetheless to my observation a man of some intelligence who doubtless appreciates the proper legal foundation for his contempt”.
“It is regrettable that his written protestations elide self-righteous indignation with innocence,” he said of Dowling’s submissions to the court.
Justice Harrison said it was an “available inference” that Dowling sought “to benefit from the publication of the … [women’s] names by attracting public interest to his website and by soliciting financial support”.
“It is a further available conclusion that he seeks to draw attention to his defiance of the court orders, as a way to gain sympathy and notoriety or simply public attention, which he apparently perceives as being a benefit to him, perhaps because he considers it will increase his public profile,” he said.
In submissions to the court, Dowling said he believed he would be classified “correctly” as a “political prisoner” by social media users if he was jailed.
Dowling wrote that he had done “nothing more than any journalist does everyday [sic] around the country”, as the women’s names “were in legal documents”.
But Justice Harrison said he had “done more” than journalists do on a daily basis and had disobeyed court orders to remove the offending articles.
A spokesman for Seven said the women “had been falsely accused by Amber Harrison of having relationships with Tim Worner”.
“The blogger himself had no defense or evidence to support his defamatory articles and didn’t check for accuracy and had no relevant defense as to why he breached the court’s orders,” the spokesman said.
Sourced through Scoop.it from: www.smh.com.au