Any chance of a fair trial?
No chance at all when you look at it. In the years, months and weeks up to his trial, Bill D'Arcy was tried, judged and condemned. The media had a field day. Nothing quite sells TV programs and newspapers than a scandal about someone who has achieved high political and social standing. Bill D'Arcy had been deputy leader of the Labor Party in the Queensland Parliament. Many, in this conservative state were not quick to defend a Labor politician.
To give just one example - as early as August 31, 1998, two years and two months before his first trial, the Courier Mail, in an article by Peter Morley, named Bill D'Arcy, as the politician whom the police were investigating over sex allegations against children. So everyone in Queensland, for years before his trial, had been fed these accusations. Bill, strenuously denied these charges, as he has every day of the years since.
The article further relates that Bill's then solicitor , Terry O'Gorman, attacked Premier Peter Beattie for not defending the presumption of innocence. He further attacked those perpetrating "the hysteria surrounding accusations of sexual offences of minors in Queensland. O'Gorman, clearly appalled that these details had been leaked, advocated "that it should be a criminal offence to publish the fact that someone was under investigation until a charge was laid."
The Australian Newspaper, in a leading editorial, took Queensland Premier Peter Beattie to task:
Sexual crimes against children are so repugnant that even the suggestion that a person is a child molester is a serious smear. If an allegation is true, it would be horrific for the victims; if false, or malicious, it would be horrific for the accused … The matter in Queensland has rapidly run out of control.
Mr Beattie has panicked and asked the backbencher to resign "in the interests of himself, his family and the Government". It is a cynical request … for the MP, it would amount to an admission of guilt. He has rightly refused to resign and has denied the allegations "forcefully and indignantly" … In seeking the MP's resignation the Premier .. (has), by implication, branded him guilty."
But no one took any notice of this, the "hysteria", as O'Gorman called it, continued. The uncorroborated accusations kept coming for the next two years, right up to his first trial in October 2000.
Any chance of a fair trial? - None.
1.Front page article, "MP will not quit over sex claims", The Courier Mail, 31st August 1998, by Peter Morley.
2. The Australian, editorial, September 1, 1998.
3. Front page article, "ALP Backbencher soon to face child sex abuse charges", The Courier Mail, Aug 29, 1998, by Tony Koch.
NOTE: For Non Queensland readers the Courier Mail is the only hard copy published newspaper in Queensland.
NOTE: An interesting quote from the Morley article: "Mr Beattie denied suggestions that Labor State Secretary Mike Kaiser was being considered as a by-election candidate in Woodridge where Mr D'Arcy has a 13.5% margin."