Now that Tony Veitch has been charged with six counts of male assaults female and one of injuring with reckless disregard, reporting on the allegations before they come to court is sub-judice – the media should not be doing it.
This is make sure Mr Veitch gets a fair trial – that justice is done, and is seen to be done.
Instead, what is happening at the moment is almost the opposite. Yesterday the Sunday Star Times published a detailed piece on each of Mr Veitch’s charges. The article ‘reveals’ that one of the charges allegedly involves Mr Veitch throwing a glass of water at former partner Kristen Dunne-Powell, and that she went back to his bed to sleep after one of the alleged assaults. The photo caption states:
ALLEGATIONS: Fresh details have emerged about Kristin Dunne-Powell’s allegations of assaults by broadcaster Tony Veitch during the couple’s tempestuous, off and on relationship.
Call me an unreconstructed feminist – but since when has a relationship in which assaults are alleged to have occurred fairly regularly been tempestuous? Isn’t tempestuous that wild fling you have with your sexy colleague over a couple of conferences, then forget about because you really have nothing to talk to them about?
Or is the use of ‘tempestuous’ merely designed to undermine the allegations of assault made against Mr Veitch?
Whose purpose do the leaks to the media serve? The police deny leaking the information, and it’s difficult to see what benefit it would serve them. Mr Veitch’s public relations representative also denies leaking the material. And according to the police, Ms Dunne-Powell does not have the information which was leaked.
“The only people who have access to the police caption of summary are myself, the officer in charge of the case, the Crown and Mr Veitch and his team,” he told Radio New Zealand.
Mr Beard said Ms Dunne-Powell was not speaking to media and did not have a copy of the summary.
So we don’t know how the information got out, or who let it out. Will Mr Veitch’s lawyers be able to argue this will stop him having a fair trial?
And what responsibility do the media hold in this – firstly, to not allow ‘trial by media’ – but secondly, to not minimise the seriousness of the charges before they are even seen in court.
After all, putting Ms Dunne-Powell on trial is hardly in the public interest.