Court overturns Scott Watson media access decision

5:53 pm on 25 August 2016

The High Court has overturned a decision by the Department of Corrections to block a journalist from recording a meeting between convicted double murderer Scott Watson and Gerald Hope, the father of one of his victims.

Ben Smart and Olivia Hope, left, and Scott Watson.

Ben Smart and Olivia Hope, left, and Scott Watson Photo: SUPPLIED / Pool / John Kirk-Anderson

Read the full decision here

In 1999, Watson was convicted of killing Ben Smart and Olivia Hope.

Last year, North and South journalist Mike White interviewed Watson in prison - the first time Watson had given a media interview since his arrest.

Watson has always denied committing the murders.

He wanted Mr White to report on his first-ever meeting with Mr Hope, something Mr Hope also wanted to happen.

Mr Hope has said he wants to meet with Watson and question him about the murders.

Corrections had said Mr White could take part in the meeting as a facilitator but not as a journalist, and Watson had sought a judicial review of that decision.

In the decision today, Justice Mallon quashed Corrections' decision, and directed it to reconsider.

The judge said the department did not seem to have considered the practicalities of granting permission for Mr Hope to visit Watson, and for Mr White to be present but not in his capacity as a journalist.

She said Corrections failed to show justification for interfering with freedom of expression.

Justice Mallon said Mr White had the trust of both parties, and had their consent to attend as a journalist.

She said having a recording of the meeting would also ensure that the meeting was accurately reported in any future story.

A Corrections spokesperson said the department had received and acknowledged the court's ruling in this case.

"We are currently reviewing the judgment and considering our options. We will determine our next steps shortly," they said.