Charles Waterstreet

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Charles Christian Waterstreet (born 17 July 1950) is an Australian former barrister, author, and theatre and film producer. He has written two memoirs and produced two films,[1] and he is now a columnist for The Sydney Morning Herald after the NSW Bar Association cancelled his practising certificate.[2][3] He is known as one of the co-creators of the ABC Television series Rake.[4] However, co-creator and actor Richard Roxburgh asserted in 2017 that Waterstreet had only contributed one idea to a single episode.[5]

Early life and education[edit]

Born in Albury, New South Wales, to publican parents, Waterstreet was educated at Waverley College[citation needed] and the University of Sydney where he earned a Bachelor of Arts in English, History and Political Science in 1971, and a Bachelor of Laws in 1974.[6] During his time at university, he resided at St John's College and later at St Andrew's College.[7]


Legal career[edit]

Waterstreet began his career teaching public law at the University of New South Wales from 1974 to 1978.[6] In 1974, he was admitted to the bar and practised part-time, defending people charged with protest and homosexuality offences.[8] He practised as a barrister, mainly in criminal law, at Forbes Chambers in Sydney until July 2016.[9][failed verification][10][failed verification]

Waterstreet has appeared in many criminal and civil cases in all courts in New South Wales and in the High Court of Australia. His first major trial came in 1978 when he left academia to appear as junior counsel to Edward St John QC and Marcus Einfeld in R v Barton. He successfully defended Thomas and Alexander Barton, two company directors charged with a series of alleged offences in which Barton company shareholders lost millions of dollars.[8] He then appeared as counsel in the infamous Greek social security fraud case, and a number of murder and other serious criminal trials.

He has appeared in many difficult trials involving complex social and factual issues. In R v English, he won a rare acquittal in respect of a solicitor in the "bottom of the harbour" prosecutions. He appeared regularly in a number of alleged sexual abuse cases including false memory syndrome. He spends most of his courtroom career at the criminal bar, in jury trials on behalf of the defence. He has argued successfully in the High Court on equity and criminal law. In recent years, he has appeared as defence counsel in a number of high-profile terrorism and murder trials.

Arts career[edit]

Waterstreet is a theatre and film producer. In 1986, he produced Howling III and in 1990 he produced Blood Oath. Along with Richard Roxburgh and Peter Duncan, he is a co-creator of the ABC TV series Rake.[11]

He began a theatrical career in producing the hit Boys Own McBeth with Grahame Bond (Aunty Jack) from 1979 which ran for nearly three years; it played in Los Angeles with an all-Australian cast.[12] In film he co-produced The Marsupials – The Howling III with director Philippe Mora. In 1990 he produced the highly respected Blood Oath which starred Bryan Brown, Russell Crowe and Deborah Kara Unger. The film was successfully released in Japanese theatres in April 1991 and in the United States in June of that year. It was shown at the celebrations to mark the 50th anniversary of the Geneva Convention on 12 August 1999 in Moscow to highlight aspects of international humanitarian law.[citation needed]

Waterstreet has been a member of the Aspen FilmFest Advisory Committee since 1993. In 1996, he produced Next to Nothing with TCN9 and Mushroom Pictures.

He is the author of Precious Bodily Fluids: A Larrikin's Memoir (Hodder Headline Australia and UK, 1998), which was re-issued by Hachette in 2008 as an Australian classic, and its sequel, Repeating the Leaving (Hodder Headline Australia, 2001). He is currently writing his third autobiography, Rake Man.[8]

Waterstreet's legal publications include:

  • Tricks of Memory – for the Medico-Legal Society of New South Wales, 12 June 1996
  • Inner child is at the mercy of the memory 'therapists' – review of Richard Guilliatt's book, Talk of the DevilThe Sydney Morning Herald, 2 November 1996
  • Down False Memory Lane – Aspects of Current Law in New South Wales – Crown Prosecutor's Annual Conference, 15 April 1998
  • "Recovered Memory Syndrome – Remembrance of Things Past" – LAAMS Seminar: States of Mind: Forensic Psychiatry & Psychology for Family & Criminal Lawyers, 1 July 1998
  • Law for the Public (contributor) – published by Penguin

He is also a regular columnist for The Sun-Herald where he has a weekly feature article in the "Extra" section named "Waterstreetlife".[6] On 12 May 2013 he published an article in the Sydney Morning Herald titled "A Mothers Tale of Heartache", in which he argued that, a man convicted of being a ring leader in the gang rapes of 7 different underage girls and women in Sydney in 2000, should be release early because of his ethnic background. He was widely condemned for this.[13]

Newcastle artist Nigel Milsom won his first Archibald Prize in 2015 for his portrait of Charles Waterstreet, the artist's former defence lawyer.[14]

Personal life[edit]

Waterstreet was married to a woman called Fiona and they had a son, Harry. Both now live in the US and Waterstreet maintains contact with them.[4] Waterstreet had been romantically linked to actress Kate Fitzpatrick.[4] He also dated journalist Gretel Killeen for a short time, and the two remain close friends.[15]

In October 2017, Waterstreet was accused of sexually harassing law student Tina Ni Huang during a job interview in August 2017.[16] He has since denied these accusations.[17]

Notable cases[edit]

Over the course of his career, Waterstreet has appeared as counsel in many high-profile criminal and civil cases in all courts in New South Wales, as well as the High Court of Australia, including social security, murder, drug, sexual assault, false memory and terrorism trials. He has also appeared in cases in Victoria, Tasmania, Queensland, the Australian Capital Territory and Vanuatu at various times in his career. Some of his more prominent cases include:

  • R v Barton (1978)
  • The Greek Social Security Case (1978–1982)
  • R v Miller (1983) (prosecutor)
  • R v English (1987)
  • R v Adam (1999)
  • O'Halloran v The Queen (2001, HCA)
  • Chung v The Queen (2001, HCA)
  • Glossop v The Queen (2002, HCA)
  • R v El-Azzi (2004)
  • R v Baladjam & Ors (2008–09)
  • Lange v Back & Schwartz (2009)
  • Jedah Jodeh v The Queen (2011)
  • R v Michael Anthony Ryan (2012)
  • R v Khazaal (2012, HCA)
  • R v Rogerson & McNamara (2015)[18][19][20]
  • R v Murphy (aka The Wolf) (2016–18)[21]
  • R v Amati (2018)[22]


  1. ^ Marx, Jack "Bad Old Days" by Jack Marx, The Monthly, November 2010. Retrieved on 3 October 2012
  2. ^ "Charles Waterstreet", profile at The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved on 3 October 2012 Archived 3 October 2012 at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ "Register of Disciplinary Action", Office of the Legal Services Commissioner, 27 June 2019.
  4. ^ a b c "Nothing But The Truth – Transcript", Australian Story presented by Rachel Ward, 3 March 2008. Retrieved 16 January 2013 Archived 5 January 2013 at the Wayback Machine
  5. ^ Gary Maddox (27 October 2017). "Richard Roxburgh: 'Any day I don't hear the name Charles Waterstreet is good'". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 26 April 2018.
  6. ^ a b c "Panellist Charles Waterstreet – flamboyant barrister". Q&A. ABC. Retrieved 19 August 2015.
  7. ^ Waterstreet, Charles (15 November 2009). "Animal rites". The Age. Retrieved 19 August 2015.[dead link]
  8. ^ a b c Charles Waterstreet: Live profile with Erik Jensen (Byron Writers Festival 2016) on YouTube, The Monthly, 7 December 2016
  9. ^ Our Barristers – Junior Counsel, Forbes Chambers
  10. ^ "The difficulty of moving office, when your phone doesn't contain your life" by Charles Waterstreet, The Sydney Morning Herald, 4 June 2016
  11. ^ "Rake – Creative Team", ABC Television. Retrieved on 3 October 2012
  12. ^ "Ripper of a lifelong Bond" by Charles Waterstreet, The Sydney Morning Herald, 20 November 2011
  13. ^ "A Mothers Tale Of Heartache".
  14. ^ "Portrait of barrister Charles Waterstreet wins 2015 Archibald Prize", Nine News, 17 July 2015
  15. ^ "A real character" by Charles Waterstreet, The Sydney Morning Herald, 5 July 2009
  16. ^ "Sydney University bans Rake Chambers from careers hub as Charles Waterstreet denies sexual harassment claims - ABC News".
  17. ^ "Charles Waterstreet responds to sexual harassment allegations".
  18. ^ "Supreme Court New South Wales: R v Rogerson; R v McNamara (No 14) [2015] NSWSC 1157". New South Wales Caselaw. Retrieved 19 August 2015.[permanent dead link]
  19. ^ "How barrister Charles Waterstreet caused Rogerson, McNamara trial to be aborted". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 16 June 2016.
  20. ^ "What the jury didn't hear during the murder trial of Roger Rogerson and Glen McNamara". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 16 June 2016.
  21. ^ "Liam Gordon Murphy, The Wolf, faces fresh sexual assault charge". The Sydney Morning Herald.
  22. ^ Ford, Mazoe. "Evie Amati trial: Lawyer says alleged axe attacker possessed by a 'voice in her head'". ABC News. ABC. Retrieved 18 July 2018.

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