The complaint of a Geneva lawyer against the RTS is rejected

The program was broadcast on June 4, 2020 at “7:30 p.m.” and the article was posted online simultaneously on the RTS website. Referring to the recent conviction of a lawyer by the Geneva courts for forgery in the titles, these two contributions were devoted to the “strike off the bar, a very rare sanction in French-speaking Switzerland.” The journalist did not mention Thierry Ador by name. He also mentioned the fact that the verdict was not final and that the convicted person was ready to appeal to the Federal Court.

Believing that this report and this article did not present the facts faithfully and that they violated the presumption of innocence and the duty to give him the floor, the Genevan then contacted the Independent Authority for the Examination of broadcasting complaints. The latter dismissed her complaint in December 2021.

Special caution

In a judgment published this Wednesday, November 9, the Federal Court in turn rejects Thierry Ador’s appeal. He recalls beforehand that the law on radio and television (or LRTV) subjects the programs to a duty of objectivity. In other words, “the viewer must be able to get the most accurate idea possible of the facts and opinions reported and be able to form their own opinion.”

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However, criticism or committed journalism are not excluded if they are presented as such in a transparent manner, specifies the 2nd Court of public law. When criminal proceedings are in progress, the journalist must exercise particular caution. In this case, the judges of Mon Repos note that the name of Thierry Ador is never mentioned and that his face is blurred during the sequence presenting his arrival at the Geneva Courthouse.

In addition, his conviction is presented as the starting point for a more general subject of disbarment. His case is only mentioned at the beginning and at the end of the report. In this context, the facts related are consistent with the truth and the provisional nature of his conviction is mentioned.

The presumption of innocence respected

For the court, the report contains all the relevant information for the public to have an “objective and correct view of the appellant’s situation”. The same applies to the article posted on the RTS Info site. The broadcaster therefore did not violate the principle of the faithful presentation of the events, nor that of the presumption of innocence.

Regarding the grievance of not having been able to express its point of view, the court agrees with the opinion of the Complaint Authority. The public is informed that the person concerned has appealed against his conviction and therefore that he disputes the facts of which he is accused. Under these conditions, his point of view emerges from the information provided in the two contributions.

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Last June, the Federal Court partially admitted Thierry Ador’s appeal. The conviction of the Geneva lawyer for forgery in the titles in connection with lease contracts has been canceled. On the other hand, the condemnation for forgery in the titles relating to official formulas was confirmed.

The complaint of a Geneva lawyer against the RTS is rejected