Did Jarryd Hayne warrant a side-door exit from Sydney Airport?

Steve Mascord Columnist

By Steve Mascord, Steve Mascord is a Roar Expert

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37 Have your say

    I’ve been to many airports to welcome – and see off – rugby league teams.

    Roughly this time last year at Heathrow Shane Warne emerged from customs with a bodyguard and waved at waiting cameras. Except they weren’t waiting for him.

    We were all there for the Cronulla Sharks, in town for the World Club Challenge. Warne shrugged and walked on.

    When the Australian Four Nations side lobbed into Manchester the previous October the cameras were ordered outside. You need prior approval to film inside Manchester Airport along with many, many others around the world.

    But I want to talk about airport officials in Australia, who, presumably with the help of customs and immigration, help sports people out the side door when they arrive back in the country.

    Wayne Bennett was offered and took this option in 2005 after his Australian side returned home losers in a series for the first time in 28 years. In 2015 Sam Thaiday even playfully made reference to this when Bennett and Mal Meninga were enjoying some banter.

    Wayne Bennett

    AAP Image/Action Photographics, Renee McKay)

    And last week Jarryd Hayne appeared to receive favourable treatment after he returned from Israel as a US civil case alleging rape hung over his head.

    In these cynical times it is easy to think of the media as nothing more than a commercial entity desperate to be fed raw material which it can then lace with ads and pass on for the public’s titillation and entertainment.

    But no matter how bad things get, democracy does need a free press to operate properly. If you don’t know what your leaders are doing, you can’t make an informed decision on whether to elect or re-elect them.

    I’m a bit idealistic like that; I still think the job of the news media is to tell you what’s going on, not flog stuff to you. That should just be a by-product of the media doing its job, not its modus operandi.

    I know; I probably still believe in the tooth fairy too…

    But I don’t see how people who are paid from the taxpayer’s purse should be protecting people from scrutiny just because they are famous by ushering them out the side door of a secure area like the customs hall.

    I have no personal interest in door-stopping a troubled sportsman at an airport; I personally don’t care what door they come out of.

    But on principle it seems wrong to me. How was it in the national interest to help Wayne Bennett or Jarryd Hayne avoid answering difficult questions?

    I mean, it’s okay if it’s the Beatles. There is a public safety imperative in stopping young girls getting trampled and an airport terminal grinding the halt. But only a select few would have known about Hayne’s arrival and the fact Bennett had just lost a football match.

    Colleague Andrew Webster reports that the side exit is made available for those who rent a press conference room. But shouldn’t we check that the person involved is actually having a press conference?

    If customs and immigration work for us, they wouldn’t be trying to protect someone who is accused of – and sure, strenuously denies – a serious crime. They wouldn’t be hanging them out to dry, mind you, either.

    I just don’t think special treatment is justified.

    Steve Mascord
    Steve Mascord

    Steve Mascord has covered rugby league in 15 countries and worked for most media organisations that regularly feature the sport, on both sides of the globe. He started off as an 18-year-old cadet at Australian Associated Press, transferring to the Sydney Morning Herald just in time to go on the last full Kangaroos Tour in 1994. He spent three years at Sydney's Daily Telegraph from 2006 before going freelance at the conclusion of the 2008 World Cup. Steve is the author of the book Touchstones, host of the White Line Fever podcast, partner in international rugby league merchandise start-up Mascord Brownz, and proprietor of rugbyleaguehub.com, hardrockhub.com and hotmetalonline.com. He is married to Sarah and splits his time between London and Sydney.

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    The Crowd Says (37)

    • January 3rd 2018 @ 7:51am
      BA Sports said | January 3rd 2018 @ 7:51am | ! Report

      Require media to get pre-approval so that security can focus on doing their jobs – which is pretty important in Airports.

      Security and Immigration officials shouldn’t be worrying about dealing with a media scrum at an Airport, they should be focusing on the people and things they are taking on board planes and the items they may be bringing into a country.

      • January 3rd 2018 @ 8:57pm
        northerner said | January 3rd 2018 @ 8:57pm | ! Report

        So far as I know, the media only have access after Customs, Immigration and AQIS have done their thing. So if there’s a media scrum outside the secure area, what concern is it of any authority?

    • January 3rd 2018 @ 8:00am
      Gray-Hand said | January 3rd 2018 @ 8:00am | ! Report

      The writer of the article appears to have written an article complaining about not having anything to write an article about.

    • January 3rd 2018 @ 8:07am
      Blake Standfield said | January 3rd 2018 @ 8:07am | ! Report

      Everyone traveling for their Christmas holidays would have appreciated being spared the delays it would have caused.

      • January 3rd 2018 @ 9:33am
        way no way said | January 3rd 2018 @ 9:33am | ! Report

        Delays it would have caused?

    • January 3rd 2018 @ 9:37am
      FnQ said | January 3rd 2018 @ 9:37am | ! Report

      Wayne Bennett has never been accused of rape. The NRL needs to stand Jarryd down.

      • Roar Guru

        January 3rd 2018 @ 10:10am
        Nat said | January 3rd 2018 @ 10:10am | ! Report

        Why? He has already been found not guilty in a court of law. This is a civil case chasing monetary compensation.

        • January 3rd 2018 @ 10:26am
          Dave_S said | January 3rd 2018 @ 10:26am | ! Report

          Was he found not guilty? I thought he wasn’t charged, ie, no trial at all.

        • January 3rd 2018 @ 11:21am
          FnQ said | January 3rd 2018 @ 11:21am | ! Report

          When? Seems you’ve been misinformed.

          • Roar Guru

            January 3rd 2018 @ 12:01pm
            Nat said | January 3rd 2018 @ 12:01pm | ! Report

            Sry, my mistake. No case to answer. So why should he be stood down?

            • January 3rd 2018 @ 1:15pm
              FnQ said | January 3rd 2018 @ 1:15pm | ! Report

              “No case to answer”? more misinformation.

              • Roar Guru

                January 3rd 2018 @ 2:58pm
                Nat said | January 3rd 2018 @ 2:58pm | ! Report

                More personal opinion clouding your judgement. He has been 100% cooperative with all law enforcement and they made the ruling. You just hope no one throws this type of mud at you without any evidence and you lose everything.

              • January 3rd 2018 @ 4:08pm
                FnQ said | January 3rd 2018 @ 4:08pm | ! Report

                Law enforcement don’t make rulings Nat, that is the role of the judiciary. That’s three statements from you now all based on personal opinion and all incorrect. Talk about clouded judgement and throwing mud without evidence.

              • January 3rd 2018 @ 4:33pm
                BA Sports said | January 3rd 2018 @ 4:33pm | ! Report

                And FnQ he hasn’t been accused of “rape” specifically either.. at least not by the papers to be put before the court in the civil suit.

                They are claiming gender violence – which includes many things including possibly rape, and sexual battery – which usually means unwanted physical contact such as groping.

                But don’t feel bad, you and the entire Australian media get that wrong…

              • January 3rd 2018 @ 4:53pm
                FnQ said | January 3rd 2018 @ 4:53pm | ! Report

                Thanks BA point taken.

              • Roar Guru

                January 3rd 2018 @ 5:23pm
                Nat said | January 3rd 2018 @ 5:23pm | ! Report

                No, I was wrong to say Court of Law, which I corrected. The Police (Law Enforcement) found he had no case to answer, look it up. This is a civil suit – for money, as I stated this morning and you want him stood down for it but still won’t say why.

            • January 3rd 2018 @ 2:29pm
              Dave_S said | January 3rd 2018 @ 2:29pm | ! Report

              As I understand it, the US authorities decided there was insufficient evidence to proceed with a criminal case.

              That’s not the same as ‘no case to answer’.

              It does however leave unanswered the question of what actually happened and what (if any) moral or legal wrong he has committed. He says he has done nothing wrong.

              Reasonable minds can differ on whether or not he should be stood down.

    • January 3rd 2018 @ 9:44am
      Lefty said | January 3rd 2018 @ 9:44am | ! Report

      I thought side-doors were sometimes used for prima-donnas and divas?

      Oh! Oops,Wait.

    • January 3rd 2018 @ 9:50am
      paul said | January 3rd 2018 @ 9:50am | ! Report

      I think the author summed up the media scrum that would have been at Hayne’s throat perfectly. Bearing in mind he cannot answer any questions even remotely attached to the trial, why did they need to have access to him when he landed? Just so they could write a meaningless comment like “Hayne was grilled about the allegations but refused to comment”.

      I also question whether access to a side door exit is confined to the rich and famous in Australia. I’m confident there are and have been many others who names don’t resonate, who have been taken out a different exit. The people making these decisions do so out of respect for the individual, rather than some supposed “right” for the press to create a headline.

      I suppose Steve, if it was you facing a similar situation and were offered the chance to take a side door exit, you’d say no so your colleagues would be able to get a story?

      • Columnist

        January 3rd 2018 @ 12:54pm
        Steve Mascord said | January 3rd 2018 @ 12:54pm | ! Report

        I would. Honestly. I would not take the side door.

      • January 3rd 2018 @ 2:55pm
        Dave_S said | January 3rd 2018 @ 2:55pm | ! Report

        It’s not correct that he is not allowed to answer questions (or make statements) about the matter. Defendants / Respondants in criminal/civil matters do it all the time.

        That said, sometimes the most sensible course is to say nothing, or at least stay quiet on certain points.

        • January 3rd 2018 @ 3:15pm
          Paul said | January 3rd 2018 @ 3:15pm | ! Report

          I’d bet dollars Parra has put a gag on him, which is what I was alluding to with my comment about not being allowed to answer any questions.

          • January 3rd 2018 @ 8:27pm
            Dave_S said | January 3rd 2018 @ 8:27pm | ! Report

            Maybe they have, I truely have no idea, but strategically I’m not seeing what’s in it for Para to gag him.

            Sure, they might if Para was implicated in the accusation, but they aren’t in this case.

            Even if Hayne has done something wrong (stressing IF), I don’t see it reflecting poorly on Para. They can let the NRL play the bad guy if there is any sanction like stand-down to be considered.

            To me, a gag would just make it look like they have something to hide, which they don’t.

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