The outlets admitted to breaching a legal order in 2018, which banned them from reporting the verdict at the time. A judge rejected arguments that their news reports – which didn’t name Pell – were in the public interest. Some of Australia’s biggest media groups are among those fined.
This includes Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp, which was fined about A$430,000, for its reports on its news.com.au site, The Daily Telegraph and other newspapers. Nine Entertainment – which publishes The Age newspaper and owns Channel Nine – was fined over A$600,000 for its stories.
The reporting ban – enforced through a legal order – was brought in at the start of Cardinal Pell’s 2018 trial. It was to prevent the possibility of prejudice affecting a separate trial he was to face on other charges.
Under the suppression order, journalists were banned from reporting any detail of the sexual abuse case, including his conviction when it was ruled by a jury in December 2018. The cardinal had previously been one of the highest-ranking Vatican figures and a close adviser to the Pope.