Former High Court Justice Michael Kirby has accused the journalists of the Seven Network of being “serial homophobes” over the outing of transport minister David Campbell, and accused the broadcaster of hounding former Law Society president John Marsden to death.
His comments came in a speech to about 700 people at the TEDx Sydney conference.
Kirby raised Thursday night’s outing of NSW transport minister David Campbell by Seven News.
The network secretly filmed the married politician entering a gay sex club in Kensington. Campbell immediately resigned his post.
Kirby told the audience (12m, 35s in video):
“The humiliation of a minister, the destruction of a career, the damage to his family, revealing that he went to a gay sauna. Human sexuality is a spectrum of nature and it’s not a big deal.
“But The exploration of it is just not acceptable to the newsroom of Channel Seven. Channel Seven Sydney should hold it head in shame. They are serial homophobes.”
Kirby also referred to the late John Marsden, former president of the Law Society of New South Wales.
In the mid 1990s, the Seven Network made a series of allegations alleging that Marsden had sex with minors. Marsden successfully sued in a marathon legal case.
The final amount the Marsden received from Seven was never revealed. But when the High Court ordered a new trial in 2002 to take into account Marsden’s hurt feelings, the network settled for a reported $6m to $9m dollars.
Marsden died of stomach cancer in 2006 after an illness of around four years. Kirby delivered the eulogy at his funeral.
Today Kirby told TEDx: “Don’t forget that it was Channel Seven that hounded the first openly gay president of the Law Society of this state – hounded him to his death. I saw him deteriorate and die. Homophobia is endemic in Australia and America.”
Kirby’s speech received loud applause from the audience.
The outing of Campbell has by Seven has sparked furious debate over the journalistic ethics involved.
At the time of posting, Seven had not responded to Mumbrella’s request for comment.
Peter Meakin, Seven’s head of news and current affairs, told Mumbrella: “I’m disappointed that Mr Kirby should feel that way. I didn’t think sexual preference was the issue.”