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Deja Vu
3 July, 2009  

It’s 1995 and John Marsden, the colourful Campbelltown solicitor, has just started his marathon defamation action against Channel 7. In March that year Justinian published a background piece on the battles Marsden was fighting on various fronts. In 2001 he won his dafamation case with an award of damages of $525,000 by Justice David Levine (subsequently settled after an appeal)

Orifice politics

From Justinian, March 1995

What we are witnessing is the sour remains of an old friendship being played out for our edification on the TV screen by a couple of gay blades.

Ronnie Dunbier (Gorman Dunbier of Campbelltown) alleged on Channel 7’s Today Tonight (March 13, image1995) that former President of the NSW Law Society, John Marsden (seen here), regularly had sex with boys who were underage. Invariably they were clients of the firm in criminal matters he said.

Dunbier knew of at least a dozen of them and had supplied the names of five to the NSW Police Royal Commission.

Dunbier assisted Channel 7 in its hatchet job on Marsden. For years he has loathed his former boss.

Allegations have been flying between these two for yonks.

Dunbier claims Marsden threatened to expose his homosexuality to his father, who was a significant client of Marsden’s practice.

Dunbier says he and his partner, Bryan Gorman, have run up a bill of $100,00 defending the practice against investigations by the Law Society, inspired by Marsden or his colleagues.

Marsden says he has never personally lodged a complaint against Dunbier, “as at today’s date”.

In turn, Dunbier has made complaints to the Law Society about Marsden.

This activity would also suggest a vicious war for clients in the Campbelltown legal services market.

Marsden also claims that Dunbier’s work was not up to scratch and that various client problems has to be unscrambled after he left the firm.

Dunbier and Marsden cannot even agree if they had been “fuck buddies”.

Today Tonight produced two unidentified rent boys to say that they had sex with Marsden in 1970 when they were 15!

One of the said that Marsden in his Mercedes picked him up at the Cross, paid him to go to his house near Campbelltown, sniff amyl-nitrate, have sex and be hit with a leather strap. (A real bargain at $50 for the whole lot.)

Both rent boys, cutely named witnesses A and B in the TV program, said they had terrible memories of Marsden.

Channel 7 might have been more careful depending on the word of a couple of lads of the night. Remember Elton John?

Marsden claims that he has never met one of these chaps. He is, however, acting for this fellow’s wife in a imagebitter family law dispute.

There are a couple of statutory declarations floating about that allege Dunbier (pic) paid a former client of Marsden’s to make some damaging allegations against the former Law Society President.

The declarations signed by two solicitors from Corrs in Sydney are to the effect that Dunbier had paid the former client $30,000 in two $15,000 cheques and bought him a Holden car.

Dunbier says that those statements are of no significance and that he had been stood over by the former client.

The whole series of allegations and counter allegations has been extremely entertaining.

Marsden’s lawyer, Olympic hero Rod McGeoch, has advised Marsden to shut up, keep out of the media and put his head down.

Marsden has damaged himself with his disarming openness about his sex life.

Three years ago, when he was President of the Law Society, Marsden decided to “come out” about his homosexuality in the intimate confines of ABC TV’s 7.30 Report. Being “proactive was the best way to face down any untoward allegations”, he thought.

Things started to unravel following the allegation last December that he was a pedophile, made under parliamentary privilege by Labor MP, Deirdre Grusovin (sister of Laurie “Botany” Brereton) and based on a statutory declaration by know pederast, Colin Fisk.

Subsequently, in early February this year, Marsden produced a new statutory declaration in which Fish admitted that at the time he made his original statement he was under psychiatric care and unable to differentiate “fact from fiction”.

He also claimed that the original statutory declaration had been dictated by Mrs Grusovin and typed by her adviser Mr Ron Hicks.

Mr Fisk has since disappeared from view.

Marsden was in unequivocal mode at his February press conference: “I have never had sex with anyone underage,” he said.

“I have received offensive phone calls in the middle of the night to my home and unfortunately some public taunting. I have been publicly humiliated. It is utterly painful to be accused of something you are not guilty of.”

He then decided to accept the kind invitation of ABC rating sensation Ellen Fanning to appear again on the 7.30 Report.

Once more he thought that this strategy would head off accusations and innuendo about his “lifestyle”.

That program went to air on February 28, last.

There were no parameters agreed for the Ellen Fanning interview and Marsden did not see the tape before it went to air.

Again McGeoch counselled against going on the program. But Marsden would not be stopped. He thought that by opening up he would head off Channel 7, which he knew had a reporter digging up some filth.

Indeed, on the 7.30 Report an unidentified figure said that a media organisation had offered rewards if information was forthcoming against Marsden.

In retrospect McGeoch was right. It was folly for Marsden to appear on Channel 2.

He started off saying, “No one out there will say that John Marsden is a pederast,” and then went on to admit to the possibility of having had an “accident” with an underage boy.

He was now being quite inconsistent with his earlier categorical denials.

He said that the allegations against him would not have been made if he had been a heterosexual, but he agreed that there is a link made in the community’s mind between homosexuality and pedophilia.

Fanning: Do you consider yourself to be promiscuous?

Marsden: I wouldn’t consider myself not to be promiscuous.

Fanning: That’s an answer you’d expect from a lawyer.

Marsden: Gay people are promiscuous. I accept that, yes.

Fanning: If your have been promiscuous, how do you know you haven’t slept with somebody underage?

Marsden: Well firstly it’s not my desire, or my emotional or my preferred options, so to that extent I’m pretty certain that no accident would have occurred. But gay people have saunas, gay people have places where they meet. You don’t go round and say please produce your birth certificate, etc. etc. But as far as I know I have never, ever slept with someone underage… Grusovin has pretty heavily damaged my life… Ron Hicks, an agent for Fisk, has played a very important part in this conspiracy, this criminal conspiracy, to defame and bring me down.

Fanning: Are you concerned that Deirdre Grusovin may well bring further claims against you?

Marsden: Concerned, no, not concerned because there’ll be no basis in them. There’s nothing out there on this issue that can do me any damage whatsoever. But, if you say will she try to justify her position, I’ve got no doubt she will and I’ve no doubt I’ll fight back with every inch and power and determination that is necessary.

Two weeks later Channel 7 wheeled out three people to refute Marsden’s denials.

The Channel 7 exercise was terribly sleazy, with questions to the rent boys like: “Tell me what happened when you had sex with John Marsden” and “What’s the worst thing that’s ever happened to you in your life?” Answer: “Meeting John Marsden”.

Really and truly!

So there you have it. Not guilty of anything in early February, but in late February the door was open to possibilities.

Marsden has commenced proceedings for defamation against Channel 7, but not against Dunbier.

There is a lesson here for the rest of the community.

It is best to be celibate. It saves of lot of potential PR problems.