The following is an excerpt from an ABC interview by Ramona Koval on 30 April 2010 only weeks after the defamation trial. It featured Julian Burnside QC, Justice Marcia Neave and Robert Richter QC.
So do you think sometimes the books that the general public read... can that sometimes sway the community in a way that’s not fair because some of the details which may not be easy to explain are not there?
It can and does. I think Phil Cleary’s book was a major influence in the abolition of the defence of provocation, which I disagreed with because I had defended a woman who relied on that defence quite properly and rightly. So that book had a great impact, I think, especially as it was taken up by certain mass media.
Robert, as you know I was chairing the Law Reform Commission at the time and we certainly reached our conclusion that provocation should be abolished before the decision and before the press coverage and so on, and we reached that view on the basis of the work that we did, the community consultations and so on. So I’m not sure that it’s fair to say that the abolition of provocation was simply a response to media manipulation.
It wasn’t simply a response in that sort of way. I know the work was done, I disagreed with it at the time, but the selling of it politically had to be founded on the kind of grounds that arose from the Cleary book, I think.