Blair Cottrell Appeal Set for County Court
Patriot activist Blair Cottrell has had his application to have his appeal against his 2017 conviction for “intent to incite ridicule or contempt of Muslims” heard in the Supreme Court of Victoria refused in the County Court.
Last Tuesday Cottrell’s lawyer John Bolton filed an application in the County Court to have the case heard in the Supreme Court arguing Victoria’s highest court could only deliver a ruling on the compatibility of Racial and Religious Tolerance Act with Victoria’s Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities.
Bolton and Cottrell had originally been challenging his conviction arguing his conviction under Victoria’s Racial and Religious Tolerance Act violated Australians’ constitutional implied right to political communication.
A 10-day appeal trial had already been set in the County Court to begin on August 12. However the Supreme Court application arose after the Victorian Attorney-General Jill Hennessy conceded that Cottrell’s rights may have been violated under Victoria’s Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities by his conviction.
Cottrell along with fellow patriot activists Neil Erikson and Christopher Shortis were charged and convicted in September 2017 under the Act for participating in mock Islamic beheading video broadcast to Facebook during the United Patriots Front’s activism against the construction of a mosque in Bendigo in 2015.
County Court Judge Lisa Hannan received the application last Tuesday at a special directions hearing and heard opposing arguments from the Director of Public Prosecutions and the representative of the Victorian Attorney-General. She reserved judgment on the application until 9am today.
Judge Hannan today rejected the Supreme Court application as the facts of the case still needed to be decided by the County Court. She added an appeal can still be made to the Supreme Court afterwards, and that this was preferable to splitting the case between two courts.
As a result the 10 day trial beginning on August 12 will proceed as planned.