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Meet the Team, Legal Affairs Editor – Tim Clarke

25 August 2023

Tell us about your journey into the role of Legal Affairs Editor of The West Australian?

I started my journalism career straight of college and into reporting for an historic daily newspaper on the south coast of England – in the same town that I had studied in university.

From the kid that had written and designed his own little newspapers in his bedroom – mostly dissecting the day’s cricket I had watched – it was a little surreal to be doing it for real. But I was instantly hooked, telling the stories of the town which had taught me how to tell stories properly.

I covered local politics, general news and sport over seven years, which gave me a brilliant grounding in what readers really cared about. From there I worked for the UK’s national wire service, and the BBC before moving to Perth in the early 2000s.

Stints covering news in the third world – and covering more sport, including Test match cricket – led me to The West, where I have covered courts for nearly ten years.

That particular job can be dark and light, tragic and comic, and gets you close with some of the best and worst people you can imagine. And that can be before lunchtime.


What does a typical day in your role look like?

Our day actually starts the night before, when we compile the court list for the cases that will need covering the following day. The assignments for myself and The West’s other two full-time court reporters give you an idea of what’s to come

Early checks of who has been arrested overnight can completely change your schedule.

You then juggle appearances, adjournments, suppression orders, pleas, victims, accused – while also keeping in mind the demands of online and print. Liaising with photographers is also key.

You interview, you file, you request transcripts and dates. And by mid-afternoon you have an idea of where your stories are going, and where they might go.

And then you start on the next day’s list. And it all starts again.


What is one of the biggest news stories you’ve covered in the past year or so that has captivated readers?

I never have, and never will, cover a case like the trial of the Claremont killer Bradley Edwards again.

The mark his crimes left on Perth burned so deep into the psyche of the city, so when he was arrested and charged the collective outpouring of anger, grief and relief was palpable.

It took three years to get to court, with numerous court appearances, and then the trial took seven months, sitting every day through the pandemic.

I am hugely proud of The West’s reporting of that case. The daily podcast) during the trial was downloaded seven million times. Click here to listen to the podcast

The daily online blog of the trial by Emily Moulton was an extraordinary feat of endurance.

The paper eventually allowed me to write a book about the entire case, and we even produced a special early edition of the paper on the day Edwards was convicted. View the audiobook book here.

It was incumbent on the state’s paper of record to see justice done in that case. And I think we did it justice.


Who or what inspires you most?

As a court reporter, you are witness to some of the worst days in people’s lives. So seeing those survivors come out the other side, and then find the courage to tell their stories is always inspiring.

And some of the young reporters you get to work with every day just energise you.

The work I have witnessed from Caitlyn Rintoul, Daryna Zadvirna, Annabel Hennessy, and Shannon Hampton amongst many others in the past few years has been extraordinary.

Journalists don’t get much love from people in general. But when you see young reporters earning the respect of the community, their contacts and their peers, then that has to inspire you to keep working.


If you could give your younger self some advice, what would it be?

Stick with the shorthand – it will come in very useful. And stick with that young woman from Perth you met in London. She turns out to be a cracker.