Broadcaster Derryn Hinch was convicted and fined $100,000 for breaching a suppression order made in the criminal proceedings against Adrian Bayley for the murder of Melbourne woman Jillian Meagher. Hinch maintained his blog and twitter posts detailing Bayley’s previous criminal history despite being aware of the suppression order. It wasn’t the first time Hinch had been found guilty of contempt of court, and the Court found that, as a veteran journalist, Hinch’s conduct was “particularly serious” and “grossly irresponsible” and that he should have known better. Following his conviction but prior to sentencing, Hinch was unrepentant on his blog and via twitter feeds, suggesting that he was the “scapegoat” and otherwise protesting his innocence. The Court therefore found that his belated apology for the contempt was insincere and no credit was given for it.
Lesson: The case shows that Australian Courts can and will take notice of publications on social media that breach their suppression orders, and will take action to enforce their orders and punish breaches in appropriate cases.