A Current Affair and 60 Minutes reporter Ben Fordham has been found guilty of breaching Listening Devices Act.
Fordham was convicted of one of four charges against him, that he knowingly recorded a private conversation on May 28, 2008.
Fordham, former ACA producer Andrew Byrne and Channel Nine were charged with breaching the Listening Devices Act in relation to a story showing a former Waverley mayor, James Markham, allegedly ordering a hit on a male escort.
In May 2008, ACA broadcast footage and audio of the meeting, during which Fordham admitted Markham had been unaware he was being recorded. Police later arrested Markham.
Andrew Byrne was convicted on all four charges of breaching the Listening Devices Act but acquitted Channel Nine.
But while Byrne was present, Justice Elizabeth Fullerton was unimpressed that Fordham was not in court today, working for Nine in Canberra.
“I expected him to be present when criminal proceedings launched in this court against him were being determined,” Justice Elizabeth Fullerton told the NSW Supreme Court.
“Frankly his attitude is disrespectful,” she told Fordham’s barrister, Hament Dhanji.
“He’s in Canberra? Doing what?”
A Nine spokesman said in a statement, “When we were informed yesterday that the judgment would be handed down today, Ben was advised by his lawyers that his attendance at court today was not required, on the understanding that sentencing would be at a later date. He was there every minute of every day throughout the entire trial, and would have been there again today had the advice been different.
“Ben is in Canberra covering the election campaign, and was represented in court today by his lawyers and by the Executive Producer of A Current Affair. He will of course be there for sentencing on August 19.”
Ben Fordham said in a statement, “I have the utmost respect for Justice Fullerton and the legal process. I’m absolutely mortified about today’s confusion, and would have been there had I been advised that my attendance was required. In fact, I was told the opposite”.
Fordham, who is a profilic Twitter user, has made no comment today on the ruling.
NineMSN has not reported the conviction on “The Fordham Report“.
A Current Affair made no mention of the case on tonight’s programme.
A sentence hearing was set down for August 19.
“Let there be no doubt about it, Mr Fordham and Mr Byrne had better be present that morning,” she said.
The Crown has already indicated it will not be seeking a custodial sentence.