Graham Cleghorn….victim of injustice in Cambodia?

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June 23 2006

Author Slams Shabby Journalism

Press Release by Lynley Hood

Award-winning author Lynley Hood today slammed “shabby” media coverage of the controversial rape convictions of Cambodian-based New Zealander Graham Cleghorn.

“There has never been any suggestion that any of the five complainants in the Cleghorn case were under the age of consent,” Dr Hood said, “Yet many New Zealand media persist in describing him, incorrectly, as a pedophile.”

Hood said that despite acknowledging and correcting the mistake when it was pointed out to them, many print and broadcast media have gone on to make exactly the same mistake a few weeks later.

“Whether repetition of this falsehood is caused by incompetence, negligence, malice or dirty-minded sensationalism, it is simply inexcusable,” she said. “Nothing is more damaging and defamatory than wrongly accusing a man of being a pedophile. To avoid any recurrence of this egregious error I am calling on all New Zealand media to display the following notice prominently in their newsrooms: GRAHAM CLEGHORN IS NOT A PEDOPHILE.”

Cleghorn, a former tour guide, was sentenced to a 20-year jail term in 2004 for raping five women employees. He claims he was the victim of a “sex sting” operated by the Cambodian Women’s Crisis Centre (CWCC). Many of Cleghorn’s Khmer neighbours have petitioned the King of Cambodia stating that the CWCC has attempted to coerce and bribe them into making false allegations against foreigner men.

Earlier this year, the Cambodian appeals court heard and dismissed Graham Cleghorn’s appeal without telling Cleghorn, his Cambodian lawyer or the NZ Embassy that it was on. Following intervention by New Zealand Ambassador Peter Rider, the Cambodian authorities agreed to rehear Cleghorn’s appeal. The rehearing is yet to take place.

Graham Cleghorn is represented in New Zealand by prominent Wellington barrister Greg King.

Dr Lynley Hood is the author of the award-winning study of the Christchurch Civic Creche case, A City Possessed.