Far-right activist Blair Cottrell loses bid to have appeal against conviction for inciting hatred of Muslims heard in Supreme Court
- Cottrell was convicted of inciting hatred, contempt, and ridicule of Muslims
- He and two supporters made video beheading dummy in protest of mosque
- Following September 2017 court decision, Cottrell made immediate appeal bid
- In February, his application to fight for ‘free speech’ in High Court was rejected
- On Tuesday, County Court judge said she was equipped to deal with the matter
Right-wing activist Blair Cottrell was knocked back in his bid to contest his racial vilification conviction in Victoria’s Supreme Court
Right-wing activist Blair Cottrell has been knocked back in his bid to contest his racial vilification conviction in Victoria’s Supreme Court.
The United Patriots Front leader, along with two of his supporters, were convicted of inciting hatred, contempt and ridicule of Muslims after making a video beheading a dummy in protest of a Bendigo mosque.
Following the September 2017 magistrates’ court decision, Cottrell made an immediate bid for appeal.
In February, his application to fight for ‘free speech’ in the High Court was rejected, after arguing he was charged with an ‘invalid law’ under the Australian constitution.
He then made moves to take the matter to the Supreme Court of Victoria, via its Court of Appeal.
He argued the matter was at odds with Victoria’s Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities, which permits freedom of thought, conscience, religious belief and expression.
But on Tuesday, County Court Judge Lisa Hannan dismissed this application also, saying there were factual matters still to be decided – such as Cottrell’s intentions in making the video – before the case went to a higher court.
She said her court was adequately equipped to deal with the matter, and referring it on at this stage would only ‘fragment’ the case.
Judge Hannan accepted the matter was important to Cottrell and could potentially be an issue of significance to the community, but the case was neither ‘novel nor complex’.
She said there was not efficiency to be gained by referring the matter upward rather than dealt with in ‘the usual way’.
Cottrell was not in court for the decision.
In September 2017, he and supporters Neil Erikson and Christopher Neil Shortis were convicted and fined $2,000 each, the first convictions under the Racial and Religious Tolerance Act.
The County Court appeal has been set down for a ten-day hearing, starting August 8.
The United Patriots Front leader, along with two of his supporters, were convicted of inciting hatred, contempt and ridicule of Muslims after making a video beheading a dummy in protest of a Bendigo mosque