The Age reported that tax barrister Ian Spry had been the subject of a police investigation following a complaint of stalking ... VicBar upset that he was named in the press ... Apparently a violation of the presumption of innocence ... Newspaper war claims a victim ... Déjà Vu ... From Justinian's bulging archive ... October 1995
Sammy Spry story spurned – Justinian No 74, October 1995
The Melbourne Age has published a story that prominent QC Dr Ian (Sam) Spry was the subject of inquiries by the wallopers over allegations of harassing a female colleague (and former close friend) at the Melbourne Bar.
The police investigation was in relation to possible breaches of the new stalking legislation.
However, the Herald Sun did not name Sam because of its policy, according to editor Steve Harris, of not identifying people subject to police investigations! The Grollo, Pratt, van Nooten and Elliot outings in The Hun were mere aberrations.
Bar President Habersberger was also shocked, describing the revelations as "reprehensible". He too was concerned about the naming of someone who was under investigation and had not been charged. He declared:
"The presumption of innocence is an important principle in a democratic society and one that has been ignored by The Age."
His letters of protest about The Hun's earlier transgression in this area must have been lost in the post.
Oddly, apart from the President of the Bar's obligatory outcry there was minimal public indignation on Sam's behalf.
The naming of the tax silk also has a great deal to do with Alan Kohler's attempt to go one better than The Herald Sun and put a bit of zip into The Age's circulation, and his editorship – but too late.
You may have noticed recently that lots of stories in The Age have been rather desperately strapped "Exclusive". Again, too late to save the Ayatollah Kohler as editor.
Two days before The Age published Spry's name, the newspaper quoted a police source as saying that the female barrister in her late 30s had contacted the police and "made a formal complaint against a barrister, a QC, who she claims has been intimidating and harassing her ever since their affair ended".
The Hun on the same day also mentioned that the harassment followed the ending of an affair between the two then unnamed barristers.
The woman complained that she had been followed and has received dozens of letters, some of which were of a lurid nature.
The Melbourne newspapers have had stories that the investigation will examine the posting of obscene letters on notice boards in Owen Dixon Chambers, the spray painting of a remark which said that this woman "fucked top silk" on the wall of a laneway opposite the Victorian Supreme Court, and the possibility of her chambers being broken into and unflattering telephone calls made to her instructing solicitors.
The allegation is that the stalking has been going on for about 18 months.
About two years ago there was a story in the Lawrence Money column of The Sunday Age which said that a leading QC had harassed a young lady on the number 8 tram from Toorak.
According to the more recent Age and Hun stories police seized for examination a number of items from Sammy's chamber and home, including cans of spray paint, letters and a typewriter.
No charges have been laid and Spry denies all allegations. It is now believed to be unlikely that he will be charged with anything.
One suggestion is that he used the spray paint to cover up the upsetting graffiti about his former friend, and that the paint underneath does not match that from his canister.
After The Hun was pipped on naming Spry as being subject to investigation it ran a bizarre story quoting police as saying that the "background history" of this matter is linked to the far right wing of the Liberal Party.
The female barrister who made the complaint was previously married to a fellow with all sorts of spook connections.
On occasions he has operated out of the office of a federal Liberal MP who occupies a position on the lunar right of the party.
Her former husband's daughter was one of the young women who made harassment complaints about Dr Alan Gregory, then the Master at Ormond College.
Of course, Spry came from a spook household, his father being the cold war warrior and chief spook in Menzies' day, Sir Charles Spry.
Sam has been the chairman of a number of dotty flat earth organisations, including the H.R. Nicholls Society and the Apostolic Ministry of Australia, which is dedicated to keeping women out of the Anglican priesthood.
Habersberger refused to confirm a Herald Sun story that the Stipes had cautioned the QC over his alleged behaviour in June.
Happily for all, sexual harassment is outlawed under the Bar rules.