by Hannah Flanagan, Assistant Accountant, Byron Bay, NSW Australia
On Friday night (12th Oct 2012) I went to the Lennox Head Community Centre to attend a lecture on Esoteric Medicine, as I do once a month, about eight months of the year. I go to these lectures because I am interested in what is being presented, but rather than walking into the presentation I was looking forward to, I walked into a media ambush – which I still can’t quite believe.
A man (David Millikan, who only later revealed he was on a retainer with a well-known television station), was invited to come on stage at the start of the presentation as he wanted to ask the group a few questions for the book he was researching. This was actually a blatant lie.
His tone changed, he became aggressive and it seemed like he wasn’t addressing us – he was actually addressing the two or three under-cover cameras that had just popped up in the audience.
What right does anyone have to film myself, my friends, family members and acquaintances without asking permission and with the obvious intent of making the group that I am a part of look sinister and wrong?
I was part of a group of people who sat in a hired public space, and had paid to attend a lecture but before I knew it, there was a TV crew at the door. I was shocked and could not believe this was happening. It felt very intimidating to not only have a crew trying to get in the door but also a woman circling the room with a hand-held camera, filming everyone without saying a word and refusing to leave when asked repeatedly to do so. At no point was I told there would be cameras and at no point was permission to film requested.
I had paid to attend a lecture but instead left feeling harassed by a group who were not interested in reporting or investigating the truth – but creating an emotional, disruptive and dramatic situation to fit the story they wished to portray. This was not journalism but a bullying attack.
It is outrageous to be subjected to this and have no rights – all I can do is write my account of what happened and let as many people as possible know – this is most definitely not ok.