Good Weekend and Sun Herald Articles on Kenja

20 March 2021

We are appalled at the Good Weekend article attack on Kenja and Ken Dyers advanced through the allegations of Alison DeCamp.

The prejudice and bias evident in the reporting which tells a one-sided narrative from start to finish must be a new low in the journalistic standards of the Sydney Morning Herald.

Jan Hamilton and Ms DeCamp’s mother sent comprehensive, detailed rebuttals of the story in the article. This engagement with the author of the article took place over 6 months and material was openly supplied as well as an invitation to access substantial documentary records relevant to the allegations.

However none of the substantial material has been presented in the Good Weekend. Six lines out of a detailed factual statement of 16 pages provided by Alison’s mother was published online. Similarly 3 paragraphs from Ms Hamilton’s 7 pages of responses were published. Describing Alison’s mother, a publisher of physics text books, a graduate of Stanford University, who also ran a business and raised 3 children as a “zealot” leaves little doubt about the article’s bias and one might say, venom.

There is very little value in this type of unbalanced journalism to promote someone’s particular narrative in an emotive and uncritical way and rejecting out of hand the alternative narrative.

Moreover, in the context of the attacks which have been made on Kenja for not joining the National Redress Scheme, it is very difficult not to see the Sydney Morning Herald publications about Kenja recently as anything more than the naming and shaming operation which the government said would take place.

We have been informed by the Herald that further articles about Kenja are soon to be published, which clearly indicates an agenda on foot. Presumably we can expect further allegations to be made in support of the agenda.

We live in a social environment where, more broadly, many tensions and conflicts are coming to the surface. Many issues are being debated fiercely. Sexual abuse is one such big issue. The role of the media, if it is truly to serve a valuable social function, is to be critical and objective. Where personal emotion is permitted to dominate, and objectivity is diminished, we are on the path to hell.

In September 2006, long after the alleged events, Alison was interviewed by a journalist about her experiences in Kenja growing up. As she was studying journalism, she was asked what she thought about the press coverage of Kenja and Ken Dyers in the following exchange:

Journalist: And with your studies of journalism it must have come up for you like, some of the criticisms particularly of Ken in the press, like you must be very aware of that?

Alison: Yeah

Journalist: How does that make you feel?

Alison: Well the, it’s not just the criticisms uh, it’s the degree, like it’s the lack of being able to take an objective unbiased view, which is what we learn, as soon as you start journalism you learn about the MEAA code of ethics and then you learn about um balance and so that fact that all these sort of articles and bad press are coming out is just um, I would expect better from a lot of places I’ve read it in, like I’m actually, it surprised me that it was such an agreement that no one would really ask the other side of the story, or even acknowledge that there was another side of the story. And I think that’s a bit sad because um there’s a potential to really educate the public as to things going on and this example sort of signifies that there’s serious lackings in journalism. So it sort of saddened me but then again I want to sort of change that, or do my bit in changing that. I want to be one of the good ones.

Reference is made in the Good Weekend article to evidence at an AVO hearing about a video recording, which was rejected. Ms Hamilton maintains that the magistrate’s view of that evidence was an error. However she decided not to appeal the civil case.

The attempted cynical denigration of Mr Dyers' personal history and war experience is disgraceful, and once again reveals an utter lack of journalistic quality. Mr Dyers never pretended to be a war hero. In fact he was quite modest about his experience in the war. He did say that active service made one very honest. But in any case who would not agree that any young man who fought actively at El Alamein and Finschhafen, was a hero. Unfortunately, comfortable young journalists of today have very little sense of historical experience and what previous generations gave to preserve democracy in this country. People's idea of "bravery" are relative.

Ken Dyers (far left) in Egypt, 1942.

The Sun Herald 21 March 2021

As anticipated, further extraordinary allegations of historical sexual abuse were made in the Sun Herald by two women who alleged they were abused 25 to 35 years ago. The allegations (which are not treated by the Herald as allegations, but as truth), are virtual carbon copies of allegations made by other complainants.

Ms Ring came to Sydney in 1999 from overseas, where she was working as a successful merchant banker, to give evidence in a trial in support of Ken Dyers, that is 3 years after the claims she makes regarding 1996. She gave evidence in court twice, both in 1996 and 1999, although she had left Kenja in 1990.

The attempts to discredit the previous trials is disgraceful and clearly driven by an agenda. It reveals a general contempt towards the legal process in establishing truth.

Trial by media is an abhorrent social phenomenon and we do not propose to engage in it. We will continue to take a principled, responsible and objective approach to these issues and our community obligations, including in respect of the National Redress Scheme, in a society based on the rule of law. Society should not be driven by agendas back to the historical context of Salem in 1692.

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