Online stirrer up on assault charge

By Jonathan Marshall

Australian TV reporter cops it as interview takes turn for the worse

Tristan Barker appears to lash out at Today Tonight reporter Dave Eccelston. Photo / Supplied
Tristan Barker appears to lash out at Today Tonight reporter Dave Eccelston. Photo / Supplied

Internet troll Tristan Barker will face a Rotorua court tomorrow, accused of bashing an Australian TV reporter who flew to interview him.

Today Tonight's Dave Eccelston travelled to Rotorua, where Barker is living with his father Michael, a former drummer of bands Split Enz and The John Butler Trio. The musician played at yesterday's Womadelaide festival in Adelaide with his group The Swamp Thing.

Tristan Barker had agreed to an interview with Channel Seven's Eccleston but when the pair met, there was an altercation and the reporter required medical attention. Today Tonight is due to screen its piece on Barker, and the alleged assault, in Australia tomorrow night.

Eccleston was asking Barker about a story that broke in News Ltd Australia and the Herald on Sunday newspapers last weekend. In it, Australian police said they wanted to talk to Barker about his online activities, where he appears to have posted material that has upset many people.

Barker has hundreds of thousands of teenage "fans" who read his rants on Facebook and Twitter.

Netsafe executive director Martin Cocker said he believed Barker's actions were "inciting acts of hatred".

Following the alleged attack, Rotorua police investigated and arrested Barker at his father's seaside Haumurana property. He was charged with common assault. The penalty is a maximum one year imprisonment.

Michael Barker said last week his son had a talent for being satirical. He had been misquoted and his comments taken out of context many times, which included his comedy being taken as fact.

"He says things I think a lot of people would like to say but probably wouldn't say."

- Herald on Sunday

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