Patriot activist Blair Cottrell was at Victoria’s County Court today with his lawyer John Bolton for a mention hearing, the latest step in Cottrell’s appeal against his 2017 conviction under Victoria’s Racial and Religious Tolerance Act for offending Muslims.
This was for conducting a mock beheading with fellow patriot activists Neil Erikson and Christopher Shortis outside the Bendigo council building in 2015, as part of the United Patriots Front’s activism opposing the construction of a mosque in the town. The mosque to this date has not been built.
Cottrell is aiming to challenge the constitutionality of Victoria’s blasphemy law under Australia’s implied right to political communication. Bolton has argued that there is “no such class of persons as Muslims” that could have been offended by the mock beheading video given the various strands in the Islamic faith.
Cottrell and Bolton had attempted to have the appeal heard in the High Court last December but they sent it back to Victoria’s County Court to decide, unwilling to hear such a case until it has been tested in lower courts, despite Judge Lisa Hannan appearing uneasy about deciding a constitutional matter.
The appeal will now go to trial in the County Court in August. Outside the court today the mainstream media were in an assembled mob. There was a heavy police presence, the public order response unit wasamong those outside.
However, unlike previous hearings involving patriot activists, no Antifa protestors were present.
Neil Erikson was also in attendance to support Cottrell.
Despite hearing all of the facts on the case the mainstream media spun the hearing as Cottrell’s High Court bid having failed. They of course referred to him as a “far-right activist” and “convicted racist”. The appeal can still be heard by the High Court once it has made its way up from the lower courts.
Some of Cottrell’s comments to the assembled media can be viewed below:
Cottrell summarised his day a Periscope Livestream which was published on his Twitter account outlining the facts to date.
Cottrell plans to persevere with his appeal with Bolton committed to representing him. Hisonlybarrier is legal expenses which have culminated so far to $13,000. Cottrell suspects that the drawn-out appeals process has been designed to drain him financially.
He crowdfunded his appeal through PayPal until his account was frozen in December last year when the platform cracked down on”political extremists” using the platform.
Supporters can continue to contribute Cottrell’s legal expenses by messaging him on Twitter and requesting direct bank deposit details.
Cottrell, Erikson and Shortis’ 2017 conviction has been another example of the lack of free speech in Australia. Victoria’s blasphemy laws are one of the numerous examples throughout the nation which render offensive language unlawful if directed to minority groups.
How the continued appeal process unfolds will be a critical moment for freedom in Australia.