March 02, 2004


So who was that mystery harasser accused yesterday by Anne Summers? Seems the Sydney Morning Herald’s lawyers thought she’d come just a leetle too close to identifying him in her original story:

Twenty years ago, my journalistic colleague left the industry rather than continue to endure the humiliation. Her harasser, while no longer an editor, is today a rich, powerful and famous man.

By the time the second edition of the print SMH was on sale, the story had been changed in a few tiny, crucial ways. Lawyers will do that. Here’s how the piece ran in those later copies:

All those years ago, my journalistic colleague left the industry rather than continue to endure the humiliation. Her harasser, while no longer a journalist, remains a man of some influence.

Helpfully, for anybody wanting to sue Summers and the SMH, the online version remains as it was. Step lively, defamation experts! Meanwhile, the Chicago Tribune’s Don Wycliff has been in touch to say that Uli Schmetzer’s strange quote from “Australian psychiatrist Graham Thorn” is under investigation. Phone calls yesterday to the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists and the medical practitioners board failed to turn up a psychiatrist by that name. What’s the story, Uli?

UPDATE. The Australian lists the accused:

In the early 1980s there were not that many editors. News Limited had Warren Beeby, Les Hollings, Larry Lamb, Alan Farrelly, Adrian Begg, Geoff Hussey, Martin Beesley, Les Hoffman, Owen Thompson, Brian Hogben and Martin Dougherty. The Fairfax group had Chris Anderson, Eric Beecher, John Alexander, David Hickey and Andrew Clark. As a number of the above are dead and few are rich and famous, the field narrows. Strewth wonders if Summers, who in the mid-1990s battled against rumours she, as an editor, had sexually harassed a bloke at a Christmas party, will clear the innocent.

Les Hollings, Larry Lamb, Owen taught-me-everything-I-know Thomson and Brian Hogben are deceased. Small list, ain’t it?

Posted by Tim Blair at March 2, 2004 11:55 AM

Well, ******* ******** of ********* is one obvious candidate.

(Tim here. I've deleted the name, for obvious reasons. Use code words, man!)

Posted by: inky wretch at March 2, 2004 at 12:09 PM

No longer a journalist, but remains of some influence? Has to be John Pilger.

Posted by: PNN at March 2, 2004 at 12:41 PM

Come on, Tim. At least help us narrow the field here.

Today's copy of The Australian lists the sixteen men who were editors in the early 1980s. Of these, I know that Les Hollings and Brian Hogben have passed on. That leaves 14. Can anyone else cut the list a bit?

(Hey, this is fun - sort of like a cryptic crossword! No wonder this retrospective sexual harassment thing is so popular!)

Posted by: Andrew D. at March 2, 2004 at 01:12 PM

I only just read Uli's article. What a load of shite!!

He parroted just about every bit of left wing pap there is, and then dared to act as if his article was "news" instead of opinion.

Posted by: Toryhere at March 2, 2004 at 01:20 PM

I take it your libel laws are more like Britain's than America's. If you'd like to e-mail or phone me, I'd be happy to post the correct answer as a comment.

Posted by: Mr. Davis at March 2, 2004 at 02:44 PM

John Alexander, who now runs Channel Nine, is probably the most "rich, powerful and famous" on the list.

Whether that makes him the harasser is anyone's guess.

Posted by: The Mongrel at March 2, 2004 at 02:52 PM

was it really journalist ...... who knows maybe the person was mistaken for someone else ..... a tennis player maybe ... they can also be rich powerful and famous!?!?

Posted by: mark at March 2, 2004 at 03:02 PM

Re list of News Ltd editors. Just off the top of my head the following are missing from the list of that era. And some were quite capable of transgressing! There are others but Invicta and Evil Star amnesia will always take its toll.
Mark Day (Mirror)
Keith Harris (Mirror)
Roy (Flabbit) Miller (Mirror)
Red Harrison (S/Tele}
Gordon McGregor (S/Mirror)
John Canning S and D/Mirror

Posted by: Dick Scott at March 2, 2004 at 03:46 PM

Do the lawyers'changes mean he isn't rich or famous, after all? No point in sueing then.

Posted by: Freddyboy at March 2, 2004 at 03:58 PM

This is like somebody's catalog of great picturesque fake Australian names: Brian Hogben, Martin Beesley, Adrian Begg... now you try and make some up. Stanley Kidneypie. Edmund Sheepmincer. Llewellyn Pudd.

Posted by: Mike G at March 2, 2004 at 04:38 PM

Uli's redneck psychiatrist will turn up eventULI.

Posted by: John in Tokyo at March 2, 2004 at 05:03 PM

Hargreave Wheatshave. Rock Fencegrass. Uwe Marestrom. Ludwig Leichhardt. Ord River. Iron Nob. Ayers Rock. Murray Darling. Flinders Ranges. Oodna Datta. Guuna Matta. Gun Synd. Gunda Windi. Innis Fail (Irish, probably terrorist). Gari Werd.

Posted by: Out Back at March 2, 2004 at 08:26 PM

I'm not clear on the concept. Is it good or bad to have sexually harassed a woman? For the men anyway. It's been a minute, maybe she's changed her mind. That's cheerful optimism.

Posted by: Ron Hardin at March 2, 2004 at 09:02 PM

Always so gratifying when things play out exactly as you predict. Sure enough, Summers gave too much detail, and her faux punctilious avoidance of naming names has smeared the innocent.

Now she's in a box, eh? Either she has to name who she really accused, which will allow her accusation to be put under the microscope (quite properly), or she has to face down several libel suits (one hopes), where the real name will come out.

Posted by: R C Dean at March 2, 2004 at 10:15 PM

Dick Scott: John Canning died in Mexico in 1989, and why would a News Ltd. reporterette turn to a Fairfax journalist for help?

One name noone has mention is the then Bulletin editor. The guy I'm thinking of also went on to later success outside journalism.

Posted by: inky wretch at March 3, 2004 at 01:37 AM

Inky wretch. The alleged harassment occured in the early 80s making John Canning's death, while regrettable, irrelevant. And Summers was employed by FAIRFAX and was not a News Ltd reporterette (whatever that is). Meanwhile, keep taking the pills.

Posted by: runyon at March 3, 2004 at 08:59 AM