Subpoenas have been handed to both the Northern Star newspaper and Byron Shire Council by the man accused of running an illegal hostel in Byron Bay last December.
Shai Major, who is representing himself, faced court again last Friday but the matter was adjourned after Council’s lawyers sought more time to be provided with information requested by a subpoena.
Additionally, Council have requested the court change the charge of ‘operate a backpackers hostel without development consent’ to ‘use of premises as a hostel without development consent’.
When the magistrate asked Mr Major if he agreed to the charge being renamed, he replied that he did not have the legal advice or knowledge to respond.
After the adjournment, Council’s prosecutor Ralph James asked for a colleague to provide free legal advice to Mr Major.
Mr James told Echonetdaily there is no change to the charge or possible fine other than the name ‘backpackers’ being dropped.
‘The charge of ‘hostel’ remains, which is defined under the Local Environmental Plan (LEP),’ he told Echonetdaily.
Mr Major told Echonetdaily, ‘I have put forward these subpoenas to further investigate my allegations of Council’s attempts to interfere with the proper conduct of this trial via a “sub judice” smear campaign that has been professionally orchestrated in order to get me judged in the media prior to my case appearing in court.
‘I am sad to think that if the Council will win in this case with their authoritarian, big-brother approach to micro-manage our lifestyles, that anyone living in a share-house in our beautiful shire will be living in fear of having their house raided – their housemates interrogated and intimidated – and prosecuted as a criminal.
‘This is a direct attack on the alternative lifestyle our shire is known for, and should not be tolerated by anyone who values their freedom in our democratic, multicultural society.’