Adelaidean - News from the University of Adelaide The University of Adelaide Australia
May 2006 Issue
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Law who's who reviews Stuart case


A who's who of the legal and media world, including prominent human rights lawyer Geoffrey Robertson QC and High Court Judge Michael Kirby, and an audience of more than 500 people came to the University of Adelaide for an all-day review of the infamous Rupert Max Stuart trial and relevant contemporary legal and social issues.

The 1959 conviction of Rupert Max Stuart for the murder of Mary Hattam and the subsequent appeals and Royal Commission remain the most discussed criminal case in the State's history. Stuart was an itinerant Aboriginal from Central Australia, whose conviction was based on a typed confession in precise, educated English.

The case is regarded as a turning point in South Australian politics and launched Rupert Murdoch's rise to international fame and prominence.

"Politics, Power, Justice and the Media: controversies from the Stuart Case" took place in Elder Hall last month and included publishing legend Richard Walsh; high profile editor Alan Howe; criminologist Professor Paul Wilson; author of The Stuart Case, Professor Ken Inglis; Walkley Award-winning investigative journalist Ms Estelle Blackburn; capital punishment opponent and daughter of Sir Thomas Playford, Dr Margaret Fereday; and Ms Helen Langley, first cousin of Mary Hattam.

The one-day seminar showed extracts from the films and documentaries made on the case, including Craig Lahiff's feature film Black and White starring Robert Carlyle. Lahiff assisted with the editing of the extracts and also took part in the day.

The day was organised by the University of Adelaide's John Bray Law Chapter and Development and Alumni Office, the Law Society of SA and the University's Law School.

Story by Robyn Mills

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Geoffrey Robertson QC meets some well-wishers in Elder Hall
Photo by Robyn Mills

Geoffrey Robertson QC meets some well-wishers in Elder Hall
Photo by Robyn Mills

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Rupert Max Stuart

Rupert Max Stuart
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