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Robert Hughes suffering trial by media

Robert Hughes arrested

Former Australian television star Robert Hughes has accused the media of misreporting and says he is the victim of trial by media.

Robert Katz, for Hughes, read out a pre-written statement following his client’s brief appearance before the Westminster Magistrates in Central London on Friday. Katz said his client vehemently denied the allegations and would return to Australia to defend himself rather than continue to suffer a trial by media.

“Mr. Hughes is shocked and perplexed as to why he is being extradited when police knew he was willing to return to Australia of his own accord.” Katz also accused the media of failing to accurately report details over the past two years. “Contrary to reports in the media my client has been in contact with police in regards to this matter on numerous occasions over the last two years, and as recently as April this year.”

Robert Hughes arrested

The Australian Federal Police subsequently issued an extradition warrant for Hughes in July of this year and he was later arrested in August. Hughes avoided questions from the media, once again leaving the court in a pre-paid taxi waiting nearby. Westminster Magistrates heard Hughes, dressed in a dark suit and red tie, did not oppose the extradition warrant. His barrister, Rachel Kapila, told the court her client “has never had any issue with returning to Australia.”

Judge Michael Snow approved the extradition order but it still must be approved by British Home Secretary Theresa May before Hughes can be handed over to the Australian authorities. It is expected the Home Secretary will approve the order without objection.

Until such time Judge Michael Snow ordered the strict bail conditions imposed on Hughes last month to continue. Bail conditions include a £60,000 ($88,000) surety held by the court, curfew, and electronic tagging. Hughes is prohibited from being unaccompanied in the presence of any person aged 16 or under, and is also prohibited from entering an international airport or St Pancras International.

Judge Michael Snow told Hughes he could end up prison if he did not comply with bail conditions and surrender himself to authorities at a later date. The 64-year-old is expected to return to Australia with a matter of days once Home Secretary formalities are completed. It is believed Hughes will be charged with 11 counts of sexual and indecent assault against a person aged under 16 when he arrives in Australia.

The allegations against Hughes included sexually assaulting a friend of his daughters aged 6 or 7; digital penetration of a 15-year-old, and exposing himself to a fellow cast-member aged 12 or 13 at the time. It is alleged he committed the offenses between 1985 and 1990.

Friday marked Hughes’ third appearance in the Central London Magistrates since local British police arrested him last month at his London WC1 address. He subsequently spent a night in Wandsworth Prison the night of his arrest while surety was arranged. The 64-year-old actor is well know for his on role as the single father architect Martin Kelly on popular Australian television show Hey Dad! between 1987 and 1993. Hughes did not take part in Hey Dad! cast reunions in 2006 and 2009; in recent years he has frequently travelled between the UK and Singapore, and has lived in London since 2010.

Hughes has continued to deny the allegations against him and previously said he hired a defamation lawyer after allegations aired on an Australian television program in 2010. Hughes is yet to be charged with any offence but is wanted by NSW police for questioning.

Transcript of statement made by Robert Katz on behalf of Robert Hughes. “Contrary to reports in the media, my client has been in contact with police in regards to this matter on numerous occasions over the last two years and as recently as April this year. Mr. Hughes is shocked and perplexed as to why he is being extradited when police know he was willing to return to Australia of this own accord to answer these questions if he had been asked, rather than continue suffering trial by media my client is keen to defend the allegations, which he vehemently denies.”

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