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Geoffrey Rush wins defamation case

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Geoffrey Rush outside the Federal Court in November.

 

Actor Geoffrey Rush has won his defamation case, with Justice Wigney that finding Nationwide News did not make out its truth defence:

“Geoffrey Rush has won his defamation case against a Sydney newspaper publisher and journalist over articles saying he’d been accused of inappropriate behaviour. The 67-year-old actor had sued The Daily Telegraph’s publisher and journalist Jonathon Moran over two stories and a poster published in late 2017.In Sydney’s Federal Court on Thursday, Justice Michael Wigney found Rush had been defamed.“Nationwide News and Mr Moran did not make out their truth defence,” the judge said.”

Relevant law

 

A plaintiff is said to have been defamed if a publication causes the reasonable person to think less of them: Reader’s Digest Services Pty Ltd v Lamb [1982] HCA 4.

Truth is a defence at common law, however in order for such a defence to succeed, the defamatory matter must be true in substance and effect: Howden v ‘Truth’ & ‘Sportsman’ Ltd 1937 58 CLR 416. Therefore, the defendant must prove that the meaning of the defamatory imputations are true and accurate in all except the most minor details, they must also prove the correctness of any inference that a reasonable person may draw from the matter: Herald & Weekly Times Ltd v Popovic (2003) 9 VR 1.

Furthermore, Section 25 of the Defamation Act 2005 provides that:

“It is a defence to the publication of defamatory matter if the defendant proves that the defamatory imputations carried by the matter of which the plaintiff complains are substantially true.”

 

Federal Court decision

The Sydney Morning Herald reports:

“Oscar-winning actor Geoffrey Rush has been awarded $850,000 in damages and will receive further damages for economic loss after he won his defamation case against Sydney tabloid The Daily Telegraph over reports accusing him of “inappropriate behaviour” towards a female co-star.

In a judgment summary delivered in court on Thursday, Federal Court Justice Michael Wigney said the Telegraph had failed to establish a defence of truth to its claims and he was not satisfied the events occurred “as alleged”.

“This was, in all the circumstances, a recklessly irresponsible piece of sensational journalism of the worst kind. The very worst kind,” Justice Wigney said.”

The question of whether an injunction sought by Rush and the issue of costs will be decided at a later case management hearing.

Law of Defamation in Australia

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Legal advice

This article outlines the elements of the tort of Defamation in Australia and the various defences available at law.

UNIFORM DEFAMATION LAWS

Previously, different Australian states had different Defamation laws, which often resulted in plaintiffs ‘forum-shopping’ by commencing their claim in the jurisdiction in which the law of defamation was most favourable to their case.

Now in Australia there are uniform Defamation Acts which have been designed to overcome this problem.

Section 6 of the Defamation Act 2005 provides that “This Act does not affect the operation of the general law in relation to the tort of defamation except to the extent that this Act provides otherwise (whether expressly or by necessary implication)”. Therefore, the common law still applies to the extent that it is not extinguished expressly or by necessary implication by legislation.

Section 8 of the Defamation Act 2005 provides that:

“A person has a single cause of action for defamation in relation to the publication of defamatory matter about the person even if more than one defamatory imputation about the person is carried by the matter.”

ELEMENTS OF DEFAMATION

In order to establish a prima facie claim for defamation, a plaintiff must prove that there was a defamatory matter, that they were identified in defamatory matter and that the defamatory matter was published. These three elements will now be discussed.

MEANING OF DEFAMATORY

A plaintiff is said to have been defamed if a publication causes the reasonable person to think less of them: Reader’s Digest Services Pty Ltd v Lamb [1982] HCA 4.

In Random House Australia Pty Ltd v Abbott [1999] FCA 1538, Beaumont J stated:

“The test for what may be defamatory at common law is well established. A publication, without justification or lawful excuse, exposing a person to hatred, contempt or ridicule, calculated to injure that person’s reputation, is a libel. But this is not to be taken as an exhaustive statement. A person may be defamed by an imputation of a disability in the performance of the functions of his or her office, although the imputation does not expose him or her to hatred, contempt or ridicule. A false statement about a person to his or her discredit is defamatory. Thus to attribute to a person a want of capacity as the holder of an office will be defamatory. The mere imputation of a lack of ability to discharge the duties of that office is sufficient. It is not necessary that there should be an imputation of immoral or disgraceful conduct (per Brennan J in John Fairfax v Punch [1980] FCA 100; (1980) 31 ALR 624 at 632 – 633 citing Lord Herschell in Alexander v Jenkins [1892] 1 QB 797 at 800). Thus, the substantive legal issue here may be expressed as whether the material complained of was defamatory of the plaintiffs in that it was to his or her “discredit … [tended] to lower him [or her] in the estimation of others … to expose him [or her] to hatred, contempt or ridicule, or to injure his [or her] reputation in his [or her] trade or profession” (see Chakravarti v Advertiser Newspapers (1998) 193 CLR 519 per Gaudron and Gummow JJ at 545 quoting Gatley on Libel and Slander, 8th ed. (1981), par 31)”

To be defamatory, the matter must injure the plaintiff’s reputation by lowering them in the estimation of others, exposing them to hatred, contempt or ridicule or causing them to be shunned or avoided.

Defamatory meaning can arise from the natural and ordinary meaning or true innuendo of the matter. True innuendo refers to matter which is defamatory as a result of an audience’s knowledge of certain extrinsic facts.

The case law shows what is and is not defamatory.

In John Fairfax & Sons Ltd v Punch [1980] FCA 100, it was held that implying that the leader of a political party had lost the confidence of a significant number of its members was defamatory because it questioned their ability to lead the party and imputed incompetence.

However, in Sungravure Pty Ltd v Middle East Airlines Airliban SAL [1975] HCA 6, it was held that stating an airline was the target of a terrorist attack was not defamatory, as although it may damage the business of the airline, the statement did not disparage the airline.

In Byrne v Deane [1937] 2 All ER 204, a poem placed on the wall of a golf club implying that the plaintiff had reported illegal poker machines to the police was held by a majority of the Court not to be defamatory because reporting illegal activity would raise the plaintiff’s estimation in the eyes of society in general.

In Boyd v Mirror Newspapers Ltd [1980] 2 NSWLR 449, it was held that a newspaper article describing the plaintiff as ‘fat’ and ‘slow’ was held not to disparage him because no blameworthiness was implied.

On the other hand, in Berkoff v Burchill [1996] 4 All ER 1008, a majority of the English Court of appeal held that describing the plaintiff was ‘hideously ugly’ was defamatory because it was capable of making him an object of ridicule.

In Ettinghausen v Consolidated Press Ltd (1991) 23 NSWLR 443, a photograph of the plaintiff in the shower capable of being interpreted as showing his genitals was defamatory because it was capable of subjecting him to a non-trivial degree of ridicule.

Describing someone as insane has been held to be defamatory because it would cause the person to be shunned: Morgan v Lingen (1863) 8 LT 800. For the same reason, an imputation that a person has Hepatitis B is also defamatory: Henry v TVW Enterprises Ltd (1990) 3 WAR 474.

Whether matter is defamatory is a question of law to be determined by reference to the hypothetical referee or ‘ordinary reasonable reader’, who “is a person of fair average intelligence, who is neither perverse, nor morbid or suspicious of mind, nor avid for scandal’: Farquar v Bottom [1980] 2 NSWLR 380. See also Amalgamated Television Services Pty Ltd v Marsden (1998) 43 NSWLR 158.

Whether the defendant intended to defame the plaintiff is immaterial, the question is whether the ordinary right-minded remember of society would consider the matter to be defamatory. A relevant consideration is what are the community standards of the time that the matter was published. As Kirby said in John Fairfax Publications Pty Ltd v Rivkin [2003] HCA 50; (2003) 201 ALR 77:

“In most circumstances, it ought not to be the case in Australia that to publish a statement that one adult was involved in consenting, private homosexual activity with another adult involves a defamatory imputation. But whether it does or does not harm a person’s reputation to publish such an imputation is related to time, personality and circumstance. Once, it was highly defamatory in many countries to allege, or suggest, that a person was a communist[110]. Now, in most circumstances, it would be a matter of complete indifference. The day may come when, to accuse an adult of consenting homosexual activity is likewise generally a matter of indifference. However, it would ignore the reality of contemporary Australian society to say that that day has arrived for all purposes and all people[111]. At least for people who treat their sexuality as private or secret, or people who have presented themselves as having a different sexual orientation, such an imputation could, depending on the circumstances, still sometimes be defamatory.”

IDENTIFICATION

A plaintiff must establish that the defamatory matter is about them: Sungravure Pty Ltd v Middle East Airlines Airliban SAL [1975] HCA 6.

If the plaintiff is named in the defamatory matter, they will have been identified. On the other hand, a person may be impliedly identified. In Cassidy v Daily Mirror Newspapers Ltd [1929] 2 KB 331, a newspaper of the plaintiff’s husband with another women accompanied by a statement that they were engaged to be married was held to be referrable to the plaintiff as those who knew her would think she was her husband’s mistress.

In Lee v Wilson (1934) 51 CLR 276, the High Court held that if defamatory matter is capable of referring to more than one person, then all who may be considered to have been referred may bring an action, even if the defendant intended to refer to someone else.

However, if the defamatory imputation is related to a group of individuals or a class, the plaintiff must show that the matter is reasonably referrable to them: Godhard v James Inglis & Co Ltd (1904) 2 CLR 78. In Knupher v London Express Newspaper Ltd [1944] it was stated by Lord Atkin that libel concerning a large of indeterminate number of people would be difficult to sue on because “the habit of making unfounded generalisations is ingrained in ill-educated or vulgar minds, or the words are occasionally intended to be facetious exaggerations”.

See also Mann v Medicine Group Pty Ltd (1991) 105 FLR 419, in which allegedly defamatory matter in respect of bulk billing doctors was held to not identify the plaintiff.

PUBLICATION

Publication in defamation law refers to communication of the defamatory material to persons other than the plaintiff.  If the defamatory material is not seen, heard or read by a person other than the plaintiff there is no action in defamation.

There are also exceptions. Unauthorised interceptions of communications do not amount to publication: Huth v Huth [1915] 3 KB 32. Neither does publication by one spouse to another: Wennhak v Morgan (1888) 20 QBD 635.

Also, the person to who the defamatory material was published must comprehend it to be defamatory. Therefore. no publication will have occurred if the person(s) receiving the defamatory material have no knowledge of special facts which would allow for knowledge of its defamatory meaning: Cross v Denley (1952) 52 SR (NSW) 112.

Every time the defamatory material is repeated or again communicated it will have been republished. Each republication results in another cause of action: Truth (NZ) Ltd v Holloway [1960] 1 WLR 997 at 1002.

DEFENCES TO DEFAMATION

A defendant bears the onus of proof of establishing any defences available under the law of defamation. If established, the defence will defeat the plaintiff’s claim to the extent that the defence applies.

COMMON LAW DEFENCES

TRUTH

Truth is a defence at common law, however in order for such a defence to succeed, the defamatory matter must be true in substance and effect: Howden v ‘Truth’ & ‘Sportsman’ Ltd 1937 58 CLR 416. Therefore, the defendant must prove that the meaning of the defamatory imputations are true and accurate in all except the most minor details, they must also prove the correctness of any inference that a reasonable person may draw from the matter: Herald & Weekly Times Ltd v Popovic (2003) 9 VR 1.

ABSOLUTE PRIVILEGE

Statements made in parliament cannot be the basis of any claim for defamation: Stockdale v Hansard (1839) 9 Ad & E1 at 114.  This defence extends to documents produced in parliamentary debates (Holdings v Jennings (1979) VR 289) and speeches and statements by witnesses before a committee of parliament: Griffin v Donnelly 1881 6 QBD 307.

The common law also confers absolute privilege in judicial and quasi-judicial proceedings: Mann v O’Neill (1997) 191 CLR 204, including professional bodies such as the Solicitor’s Board: Hercules v Phease [1994] 2 VR 411.

Communications which are also protected by absolute privilege include the following:

    1. 1. between solicitor and client in judicial proceedings: Watson v McEwan [1905] AC 180.
    2. 2. between spouses: Wennhak v Morgan (1888) 20 QBD 635.
    3. 3. between officers of state in the course of official duties: Chatterton v Secretary of State for India [1895] 2 QB 189.

 

QUALIFIED PRIVILEGE

The common law also confers qualified privilege in situations where the relationship between the parties is that the publisher has an interest such is paramount to the reputation of the plaintiff. Such situations include where there is a duty to communicate believed to be true to a person who has an interest in receiving the information, an interest of the speaker to a person honestly believed to have a duty to protect that interest, and a common interest in and reciprocal duty in respect of the subject matter of the communication between speaker and recipient.

The defence will be lost if the plaintiff proves malice. Malice is established if the defendant has used the occasion to publish the defamatory matter for a purpose other than that for which the privilege was given, or the defendant did not have an honest belief in the truth of what was published: Barbaro v Amalgamated Television Services Pty Ltd (1885) 1 NSWLR 30 at 50-4.

Qualified privilege extends to the publication of specified reports if they are fair and accurate. The defence is afforded to reports of judicial proceedings, reports of proceedings in parliament and reports of other bodies where there is public interest.

The implied right to political communication also extends the defence of qualified privilege. In Lange v Australian Broadcasting Corporation (1997) 189 CLR 520, the High Court extended qualified privilege to statements made in discussion of political and government matters. For the defence to be successful, the defamatory matter must be about government or political matters, the publication must be reasonable in all the circumstances and the defendant must not be actuated by malice.

HONEST OPINION

Another common law defence is that of honest opinion. This may be established if:

        1. 1. The defamatory matter is a comment based on fact;
        2. 2. The comment is on a matter of public interest; and
        3. 3. The comment is fair.

The defence only applies to expression of opinion, not fact: Illawarra Newspapers v Butler [1981] 2 NSWLR 502, and the relevant test is whether a reasonable person would understand the statement to be the defendant’s opinion: Channel Seven Adelaide Pty Ltd v Manock (2007) 232 CLR 245.

INNOCENT DISSEMINATION

A publisher can also rely on the defence of innocent dissemination. His defence is available if a publisher can show they were not aware of the defamatory matter and published it through no negligence of their own.

TRIVIALITY

At common law, the defence of triviality meant that if spoken words (slander) are such in the circumstances that the defendant is unlikely to suffer harm, the claim must fail.

CONSENT

If a plaintiff consents to the publication, this acts as a bar to a defamation claim: Cookson v Harewood [1932] 2 KB 478.

DEFAMATION ACT DEFENCES

Section 24(1) of the Defamation Act 2005 provides that:

“A defence under this Division is additional to any other defence or exclusion of liability available to the defendant apart from this Act (including under the general law) and does not of itself vitiate, limit or abrogate any other defence or exclusion of liability.”

TRUTH

Section 25 of the Defamation Act 2005 provides that:

“It is a defence to the publication of defamatory matter if the defendant proves that the defamatory imputations carried by the matter of which the plaintiff complains are substantially true.”

CONTEXTUAL TRUTH

Section 26 of the Defamation Act 2005 provides that:

“26 Defence of contextual truth

It is a defence to the publication of defamatory matter if the defendant proves that:

(a) the matter carried, in addition to the defamatory imputations of which the plaintiff complains, one or more other imputations (“contextual imputations”) that are substantially true, and

(b) the defamatory imputations do not further harm the reputation of the plaintiff because of the substantial truth of the contextual imputations.”

ABSOLUTE PRIVILEGE

Section 27(1) of the Defamation Act 2005 provides that:

“(1) It is a defence to the publication of defamatory matter if the defendant proves that it was published on an occasion of absolute privilege.”

Section 27(2) of the Defamation Act 2005 says that court proceedings and parliamentary proceedings are occasions of absolute privilege.

PUBLIC DOCUMENTS AND PROCEEDINGS OF PUBLIC CONCERN

Section 28 of the Defamation Act 2005 provides that:

“28 Defence for publication of public documents

(1) It is a defence to the publication of defamatory matter if the defendant proves that the matter was contained in:

(a) a public document or a fair copy of a public document, or

(b) a fair summary of, or a fair extract from, a public document.”

Section 28(4) of the Defamation Act 2005 says that “public document” means:

“(a) any report or paper published by a parliamentary body, or a record of votes, debates or other proceedings relating to a parliamentary body published by or under the authority of the body or any law, or

(b) any judgment, order or other determination of a court or arbitral tribunal of any country in civil proceedings and including:

(i) any record of the court or tribunal relating to the judgment, order or determination or to its enforcement or satisfaction, and

(ii) any report of the court or tribunal about its judgment, order or determination and the reasons for its judgment, order or determination, or

(c) any report or other document that under the law of any country:

(i) is authorised to be published, or

(ii) is required to be presented or submitted to, tabled in, or laid before, a parliamentary body, or

(d) any document issued by the government (including a local government) of a country, or by an officer, employee or agency of the government, for the information of the public, or

(e) any record or other document open to inspection by the public that is kept:

(i) by an Australian jurisdiction, or

(ii) by a statutory authority of an Australian jurisdiction, or

(iii) by an Australian court, or

(iv) under legislation of an Australian jurisdiction, or

(f) any other document issued, kept or published by a person, body or organisation of another Australian jurisdiction that is treated in that jurisdiction as a public document under a provision of a law of the jurisdiction corresponding to this section, or

(g) any document of a kind specified in Schedule 2.”

Section 29 of the Defamation Act 2005 provides that:

“29 Defences of fair report of proceedings of public concern

(1) It is a defence to the publication of defamatory matter if the defendant proves that the matter was, or was contained in, a fair report of any proceedings of public concern.

(2) It is a defence to the publication of defamatory matter if the defendant proves that:

(a) the matter was, or was contained in, an earlier published report of proceedings of public concern, and

(b) the matter was, or was contained in, a fair copy of, a fair summary of, or a fair extract from, the earlier published report, and

(c) the defendant had no knowledge that would reasonably make the defendant aware that the earlier published report was not fair.

(3) A defence established under subsection (1) or (2) is defeated if, and only if, the plaintiff proves that the defamatory matter was not published honestly for the information of the public or the advancement of education.”

Section 28(4) of the Defamation Act 2005 says that “proceedings of public concern” means any proceedings in public of a parliamentary body, any local government body in Australia, international body of governments, international conference of governments, International Court of Justice, or any court, judicial or arbitral tribunal or inquiry, learned society, sport or recreational association, trade association or public meeting of shareholders of a public company.

QUALIFIED PRIVILEGE

Section 30 of the Defamation Act 2005 provides that:

“30 Defence of qualified privilege for provision of certain information

(1) There is a defence of qualified privilege for the publication of defamatory matter to a person (the “recipient”) if the defendant proves that:

(a) the recipient has an interest or apparent interest in having information on some subject, and

(b) the matter is published to the recipient in the course of giving to the recipient information on that subject, and

(c) the conduct of the defendant in publishing that matter is reasonable in the circumstances.

(2) For the purposes of subsection (1), a recipient has an apparent interest in having information on some subject if, and only if, at the time of the publication in question, the defendant believes on reasonable grounds that the recipient has that interest.

(3) In determining for the purposes of subsection (1) whether the conduct of the defendant in publishing matter about a person is reasonable in the circumstances, a court may take into account:

(a) the extent to which the matter published is of public interest, and

(b) the extent to which the matter published relates to the performance of the public functions or activities of the person, and

(c) the seriousness of any defamatory imputation carried by the matter published, and

(d) the extent to which the matter published distinguishes between suspicions, allegations and proven facts, and(e) whether it was in the public interest in the circumstances for the matter published to be published expeditiously, and

(f) the nature of the business environment in which the defendant operates, and

(g) the sources of the information in the matter published and the integrity of those sources, and

(h) whether the matter published contained the substance of the person’s side of the story and, if not, whether a reasonable attempt was made by the defendant to obtain and publish a response from the person, and

(i) any other steps taken to verify the information in the matter published, and

(j) any other circumstances that the court considers relevant.

(4) For the avoidance of doubt, a defence of qualified privilege under subsection (1) is defeated if the plaintiff proves that the publication of the defamatory matter was actuated by malice.”

HONEST OPINION

Section 31(1)-(3) of the Defamation Act 2005 provides that it is a defence to the publication of defamatory matter if the defendant proves that:

(a) the matter was an expression of opinion of the defendant, an employee or agent of the defendant or another person rather than a statement of fact, and

(b) the opinion related to a matter of public interest, and

(c) the opinion is based on proper material.

Section 31(4) of the Defamation Act 2005 says that a defence under this section is only defeated if the opinion was not honestly held by the defendant at the time the defamatory matter was published, or if the defendant did not believe the opinion was honestly held by the person who expressed it.

Section 31(5) of the Defamation Act 2005 says that ” proper material” means material that:

(a) is substantially true, or

(b) was published on an occasion of absolute or qualified privilege (whether under this Act or at general law), or

(c) was published on an occasion that attracted the protection of a defence under this section or section 28 or 29.

In addition, Section 31(5) of the Defamation Act 2005 provides that “An opinion does not cease to be based on proper material only because some of the material on which it is based is not proper material if the opinion might reasonably be based on such of the material as is proper material”.

INNOCENT DISSEMINATION

Section 32 of the Defamation Act 2005 provides that:

“(1) It is a defence to the publication of defamatory matter if the defendant proves that:

(a) the defendant published the matter merely in the capacity, or as an employee or agent, of a subordinate distributor, and

(b) the defendant neither knew, nor ought reasonably to have known, that the matter was defamatory, and

(c) the defendant’s lack of knowledge was not due to any negligence on the part of the defendant.”

TRIVIALITY

Section 33 of the Defamation Act 2005 provides that “It is a defence to the publication of defamatory matter if the defendant proves that the circumstances of publication were such that the plaintiff was unlikely to sustain any harm”.

Other statutory defences

Other statutes which are not concerned with the law of defamation can in some cases offer a potential defence to a defamation claim. A few examples include the following.

PARLIAMENTARY PRIVILEGES ACT

Section 10 of the Parliamentary Privileges Act 1987 (Cth) provides that:

“It is a defence to an action for defamation that the defamatory matter was published by the defendant without any adoption by the defendant of the substance of the matter, and the defamatory matter was contained in a fair and accurate report of proceedings at a meeting of a House or a committee.”

Section 16(1) of the Parliamentary Privileges Act enshrines article 9 of the English Bill of Rights, which in turn provides “That the freedom of speech and debates or proceedings in Parliament ought not to be impeached or questioned in any court or place out of Parliament”.  Meanwhile, section 16(3) of the Parliamentary Privileges Act provides that:

“In proceedings in any court or tribunal, it is not lawful for evidence to be tendered or received, questions asked or statements, submissions or comments made, concerning proceedings in Parliament, by way of, or for the purpose of:

                     (a)  questioning or relying on the truth, motive, intention or good faith of anything forming part of those proceedings in Parliament;

                     (b)  otherwise questioning or establishing the credibility, motive, intention or good faith of any person; or

                     (c)  drawing, or inviting the drawing of, inferences or conclusions wholly or partly from anything forming part of those proceedings in Parliament.”

Section 197A(2) of the Child Protection Act (Qld) provides that a person acting honestly and reasonably is not liable, civilly or criminally for giving a notification or information concerning a child to the Department of Child Safety or the police. Section 197A(4) of the Child Protection Act 1999  further provides that “in a proceeding for defamation, the person has a defence of absolute privilege for publishing the information”.

Section 487(2) of the Legal Profession Act (Qld) provides that a person is not liable, civilly (including in an action for defamation), criminally or under an administrative process for making a complaint, or otherwise giving information to the commissioner, the law society or the bar association relating to the conduct of a lawyer, law practice employee or unlawful operator.

Conclusion

The common law elements of the tort of defamation remain unaffected by statute, save for the abolition of the distinction between libel and slander. Therefore, a plaintiff must still prove there was defamatory matter about which they were identified and which was published to persons other than themselves. The common law defences also remain in law. The state Defamation Acts do supplement the defences at common law, and in doing so provide defendants with greater access to various defences.

Mark Latham to not lead evidence in defamation trial

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Former Labor leader Mark Latham will file no evidence in his defence of a defamation claim by former Greens candidate and political journalist Osman Faruqi.

Mark Latham

The Facts

Osman Faruqi, the son of Greens senator Mehreen Faruqi, is suing Mark Latham over a video.

Faruqi had earlier shared on his Twitter, speaking to Yassmin Abdel-Magied:

“The white people are getting f..ked Yas, it’s happening.”

Latham in August, 2017 said of Mr Faruqi in his Outsiders video program:

“These people are fermenting (sic) hatred of white people,” he said, according to a transcript of the show supplied to the Federal Court. “As such, they are effectively encouraging terrorists in this political environment to do their worst.”

The video was viewed more than 30,000 times, according to Mr Faruqi.

Federal Court case

Faruqi has argued Mr Latham’s comments made him out to be someone who “knowingly assists terrorist fanatics who want to kill innocent people” and “condones the murder of innocent people”.

Latham has elected not to file any evidence in chief in defence of Faruqi’s claim against him.

This morning, Justice Wigney set the matter down for a mediation, as well as a 2 day trial on 11-12 April 2019 if the matter is not resolved at mediation.

Alan Jones, 2GB and 4BC ordered to pay Wagners for defamation

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Jones

The facts

The four Plaintiffs in this matter were brothers from Toowoomba known as ‘the Wagners’. Through Wagner Investments Pty Ltd, they had purchased a quarry at Grantham in November 1998 which they later sold on 8 December 2011.

The Wagners also owned a large parcel of land (310 hectares) at Toowoomba Cecil Plains Road, Wellcamp and had constructed Toowoomba Airport on that land.

On 10 January 2011, significant flooding occurred in the Lockyer Valley which resulted in 12 people, including young children being drowned.

The second defendant was Alan Jones, a famous radio broadcaster. On radio station 2GB (which was the first defendant) on 28 October 2014, Jones claimed on his radio program that a ‘Grantham cover-up’ had been ‘orchestrated’. He then claimed that the Wagners were in partnership with entities for whose benefit the cover up was for, and asked whether the Wagners were ‘untouchable’. The following day he again spoke of a ‘Grantham cover up’, suggested that the reasons for the cover up included the Wagners, and said that those doing the covering up had a lot to hide.

On 24 February 2015 Jones broadcast the following words on the radio station of the third defendant 4BC:

“So in July/August last year Alex Douglas met with Palaszczuk re- grant them [Grantham] and gave support to Clive Palmer’s federal parliamentary inquiry into Queensland. Palaszczuk reportedly told Dr Douglas she knew all about Grantham, knew it was a cover up but quoted; it didn’t happen on my watch and she wanted to move on. When the Palmer inquiry was passed by the Senate in September last year Palaszczuk told the media yes she’d be happy to appear before it. By November last year she refused to appear. Why? What was going on? Now we hear that Wagner’s people have been visiting Palaszczuk convincing her or trying to that everything about Grantham is a conspiracy. The whole Grantham thing and she needs to lie low and let it pass. And I understand that Stewart the Police Commissioner is terrified that Grantham will be reopened as an inquiry. Annastacia Palaszczuk the new Premier needs to get a judicial inquiry into Grantham up and running immediately.”

Two days later, Jones followed up on 4BC by asserting that the Wagners had ‘mates’ both in town hall and George Street, including Campbell Newman and Jeff Seeney, and implied that the construction of the Toowoomba airport was anything but legal.

On 2GB on 9 March 2015 Jones asserted there was ‘a massive coverup’, suggested that the dam wall on the Wagners’ property had collapsed, linked the construction of the wall to the Wagners doing what they liked and called for a ‘major inquiry’. The following day Jones in an accusatory tone on 2GB stated that:

“Marty Warburton pointed out how it happened. He’d seen 14 floods in 21 years. He said it wasn’t a normal wall of water. He said the water had been diverted out of Lockyer Creek at the Wagners sand plant quarry where a dam wall had been constructed across the creek and the dam wall in the Wagner quarry had collapsed through the force of water.”

On 2GB on 11 March 2015, Jones returned to the Grantham issue and then stated the following:

“This is the airport mob, Wagner used to get his own way, no longer. No admission has been forthcoming from Wagners, the owners of the quarry. As soon as they knew they were in trouble though, they sold it. And that was the quarry – they were the quarry walls that burst and a veritable tsunami ensued…

“You see, the Wagner Brothers are used to getting their own way, doing as they liked. Build an airport – no environmental impact statement, no health impact statement, no community impact statement, no water impact statement, nothing, just build it. No compensation for those living in hopeless proximity to the airport. “As soon as they knew they were in trouble though, they sold it”.

On 11 March 2015, Jones on 2GB said that:

“… it now appears that the Toowoomba-based Wagners are in the eye of the storm. They thought they could get away with building an airport without seeking proper approvals because they had a gutless council, The Toowoomba Regional Council, and they had the Newman Government’s ear so the community were walked all over. Then the quarry; they created a wall around the Grantham sand quarry. Typically Wagners; what they didn’t need from the process they just parked alongside the quarry and built it up, and up, and up, and up, creating a massive wall. Wagners dishonestly have said it was part of the natural landscape; that’s a lie, it was man made. The quarry then became a bathtub, and at a focal point in the 2011 floods the weight of the water collapsed the embankment wall, and a tsunami happened in seconds.”

On 17 March 2015, Jones had an interview with the fourth Defendant and journalist, Nick Cater on 2GB. Jones largely repeated his comments from 11 March 2015. Cater stated that:

“It never seemed to make any sense at all to me, the line that was being put by the official flood commissions that this was simply an act of God, that nothing could be done to avoid this because when you go there and look at the evidence on the ground, you talk to people, everything points to one thing and that is this massive wall of water two to two-and-a-half metres high that just came sweeping through the town with no warning whatsoever.

“That had to be started by something and all the evidence points as you just said to the wall at the quarry that collapsed. It was like a break in a dam. The water gushes out with huge velocity and huge force and that was in the end what caused the damage, what kills people.

“It’s very hard to escape the conclusion that if it was not for the quarry wall twelve people would not have lost their lives that day and yet it’s taken so long as you know, Alan, more than four years now of battling to try and get close to the truth, to try and establish the truth. I believe that we are close now and that the [DHI] report backs us all the way on this. It’s still a long way to go.”

Jones and Cater then proceeded to make various criticisms of the Queensland Floods Inquiry and cast doubt on the findings of the hydrologist engaged by the Inquiry, Dr Phillip Jordan. Cater concluded the interview with Mr Jones by calling for a fresh inquiry.

On 27 April 2015, Jones interviewed the then newly elected Queensland Premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk on 2GB. In that interview, Jones stated that:

“In Grantham in your state in 2011, 12 people died when the weight of water, allegedly from a quarry owner owned by the Wagners, became a bathtub. And the weight of the water collapsed the embankment, 12 people had no hope. Will you be calling a long overdue inquiry so that these poor people who are the survivors of this massive tragedy at Grantham can have their say?”

On 6 May 2015 on 2GB, Jones interviewed Mr Warburton, and stated during that interview that:

“You said many locals raised the issue regarding Wagner’s dam and its effect at several community meetings after the event but the issue was always dismissed by authorities… “And you’re convinced that it was the result of a man-made construction in a designated water course and you’ll be making those points.”

On 15 May 2015, Jones claimed on 2GB that a discussion about the inquiry into the Grantham floods had recently occurred in Rockhampton between John Wagner, Barnaby Joyce and Warren Truss, I which it was said “that we need to cover each other’s backs in this, you look after us and we’ll look after you”. Jones then claimed they were ‘running scared’.

On 25 May 2015, Jones again claimed on 2GB there was a cover up and suggested it was for the benefit of ‘Wagner and Co’. He also suggested the Wagers were involved in ‘dirty deals’, that crimes had been committed, and that Heather Brown and her husband Dr David Pascoe had been burgled for pursuing the truth.

On 26 May 2015, Jones suggested on 2GB that the approval for the Wagner’s airport involved the stealing of airspace from the Oakey air base which would eventually lead to its closure for their “own selfish, greedy purposes”. Jones also described the Wagers as ‘hypocrites of the year’ who were on “a little comedy routine to convince the poor old Darling Downs punter that they really care” and that “they’ve got as much hide as Jessie the elephant”.

Whilst on Sky News on 2 June 2015, Jones stated that:

“But the big thing that she’s done to date is the whole question of Grantham; the inquiry into the floods, and the feeling by many that the quarry dam wall broke. Well quite extraordinarily I had a call this week from someone who was on the Lockyer Council back in 1989 – I’ve got to be careful in terms of what I say – but he was telling me that if his memory served him correctly Wagner’s were never meant to have any overburden left on the site, let alone use it as a wall. In other words what you didn’t want had to be carted away. And this is of course the wall that broke, and the tsunami that followed. And my caller said that either of two things had occurred; that Wagners deliberately ignored that ruling that they were never meant to leave any overburden on the site, or they had it specially altered or changed with some of their mates in Government.”

On 4 June 2015, Jones stated on 2GB that:

“… I made this point on television the other night but with this Grantham inquiry in Queensland being all the talk in that part of the world.I was talking to someone who was on the Lockyer Council back in 1989. And he told me that if memory served him correctly, Wagners were never meant to have any over-burden left on the site – let alone used as a wall. This, of course, is the wall that the locals argued broke and the tsunami followed and people were dead.And my informant told me that either of two things have occurred: Wagners deliberately ignored the ruling that they were never meant to leave any overburden on the site, or some of the mates changed the rules. Either way, it starts to explain why people are running for cover. And why in fact there may have been a cover up.”

On 16 June 2015, Jones stated on 2GB that:

“So how many sweetheart deals are this mob worried about that will be unearthed by the Grantham Inquiry? Mr Sofronoff will be examining everything. Might it extend to the Wagner Airport, and how they were given the airspace over Oakey for nothing – national air space? I’m telling you they’re all in this, and there’s Federal money. And who is picking over the Federal money to look after themselves? There was a conference in Canberra yesterday, big money being talked, big gifts, big money to hand out. Who’s going to get it? As was said at Beef Week we need to cover each other’s backs, you look after us and we’ll look after you. Well I for one will be watching closely where this Federal Government money goes. Does Mr Wagner have his hand out again? Mr Truss yesterday in Canberra was talking about planned beef roads and dams; who’s going to build them? Where’s the money going to go? Is that what was meant by we need to cover each other’s backs, you look after us and we’ll look after you? Well I’ve got news for all of them; whether in Canberra or not these sweetheart deals with Wagner or anybody else will be closely examined in the light of the Grantham Inquiry and they will be revealed. And if the boys are in on the deals then the deals and the boys will be made public.”

On 22 June 2015, Jones stated on 2GB that:

“Just on the Grantham inquiry, I won’t go into detail of the unspeakable cover ups that have occurred in relation to the tragedies of 2011… all withheld evidence. I mean you’ve started with Golder Associates undertaking this geotechnical work on the Wagner quarry. Interesting the geotechnical investigation has the full cooperation of Boral to whom Wagner sold the quarry in a hurry after the flood, so it will be interesting…”

On 20 July 2015, Jones on 2GB referred to the Toowoomba-based company, Wagners, as “the darlings of the Coalition in Queensland and in Canberra” who built the airport in Toowoomba, remember, without seeking proper approvals.” With a particular vocal emphasis, he asserted the Wagers were “gifted Oakey air space”. Jones went on to suggest that over burden had created a massive wall along the quarry which had collapsed due to the weight of water, and that an inquiry was commencing that day “to end the cover up”.

On 21 July 2015, Jones had an interview with Cater on 2GB concerning the first day of hearings of the Grantham Floods Inquiry. Jones once again referred to a ‘cover up’ and quoted Sault Holt QC saying that “the suggestion that the quarry wall, the Wagner quarry, didn’t have a substantial impact on the behaviour of the flood waters is something that at least on its face may not pass the sanity test”.

On 22 July 2015 on 2GB, Jones was effusive in his praise of the inquiry’s’ witnesses and the Commissioner, whilst directing derogatory comments and tone for the Wagners, including references to Denis Wagner “covering his face” and the Wagners being “finished”.

On 24 July 2015, Jones among other statements again asserted on 2GB that there was ‘a cover up at Grantham’ which was related to an alleged conversation in Rockhampton between John Wagner and Warren Truss.

On 28 July 2015, Jones, in a sensationalist tone, suggested on 2GB that the Wagners had intimidated potential witnesses and referred to Wagner’s account of the wall being part of the landscape as “rubbish”.

On 29 July 2015, Jones again discussed the inquiry on 2GB and made numerous remarks, including the following:

“Yesterday it was quite clear from all the aerial footage, the pictures, and the verbal descriptions that the quarry wall held back a massive amount of water. When the wall collapsed the water went straight across the full quarry and cannoned north east, hit Tommy Friend’s house, Johnny Sippel’s house, and then cannoned down to Grantham… It’s down to one question that now hangs over the whole thing; did Wagners build the wall by not taking the rubbish away? Clearly the eye witnesses who’ve testified believe that they did. Wagners will now say it was there when they bought the quarry. Someone’s not telling the truth. Denis Wagner’s in the dock today, this is straight out of MGM.”

On 31 July 2015, Jones asserted on 2GB that Denis Wagner “was admitting everything he’d previously denied” and that the Wagners had dumped overburden along the creek “contrary to the conditions which allow them to mine the quarry” and that Wagners were at their very, very worst”. Jones also ridiculed Denis Wagner’s assertion that the flood had impacted on their business and asked of the Wagners “What kind of selfish, insensitive grubs are these people?”.

On 4 August 2015, Jones provided commentary on 2GB about Denis Wagner’s evidence at the flood inquiry, claiming that “it wasn’t a pretty sight” and asserting that Wagner had now admitted on oath what he had previously denied. Jones asserted that there was footage which showed what happened at Grantham and again spoke of a cover up in which people were being protected.

On 11 August 2015, Jones spoke with Amanda Gearing on 2GB about her submission to the flood inquiry and her view that the Wagners’ quarry exacerbated the flood, a view that Jones explicitly endorsed.

On 18 August 2015, Jones, after reading various opening statements from the flood inquiry, opined on 2GB that it was:

“… inevitable that 12 people would be killed. There have been floods of that kind in Grantham before, no one died. But here was this wall, massive wall – it shouldn’t have been built – illegal. The water, water, building up, billions of litres of water, the wall cracks goes whoosh, bang, nowhere to go, heads towards the railway line, nowhere to go, but the wall, the water wouldn’t have been near the railway line if it hadn’t been banked up behind the quarry wall. We’ve had similar floods in Grantham, of the same dimension, no one lost their life. But of course, the defence that the wall didn’t contribute to the flooding reminded me of Mandy Rice-Davies, way back in the 60s, in the famous Profumo affair, when she said oh Profumo, well he would say that, wouldn’t he. And they would say that.”

On 20 August 2015, Jones discussed the hydrology report and evidence given by Dr John Macintosh to the Grantham Floods Inquiry on 2GB. Jones opined that “you put in a levee bank to solve one problem, and you can cause another”, and that Dr Macintosh’s report “didn’t pass the sanity test”, among other things.

The Wagners sued Jones, 2GB, 4BC and Cater in respect of the above broadcasts.

Relevant law

In order to establish that they have been defamed, a plaintiff must prove the following three elements:

  1. 1. That one or more defamatory imputations have been made.
  2. 2. That the defamatory imputations were published by the defendant.
  3. 3. That the plaintiff has been identified in relation to the defamatory imputations.

 

Once a plaintiff has established these three elements, the defendant must in order to successfully defend the claim establish one of the available defences under the Defamation Act 2005 (Qld).

Section 18 of the Defamation Act provides as follows:

“Effect of failure to accept reasonable offer to make amends

(1) If an offer to make amends is made in relation to the matter in question but is not accepted, it is a defence to an action for defamation against the publisher in relation to the matter if—

(a) the publisher made the offer as soon as practicable after becoming aware that the matter is or may be defamatory; and

(b) at any time before the trial the publisher was ready and willing, on acceptance of the offer by the aggrieved person, to carry out the terms of the offer; and

(c) in all the circumstances the offer was reasonable.”

Section 25 of the Defamation Act provides as follows: 

“Defence of justification

It is a defence to the publication of defamatory matter if the defendant proves that the defamatory imputations carried by the matter of which the plaintiff complains are substantially true.”

Section 29 of the Defamation Act provides as follows:

29 Defences of fair report of proceedings of public concern

(1) It is a defence to the publication of defamatory matter if the defendant proves that the matter was, or was contained in, a fair report of any proceedings of public concern.

(2) It is a defence to the publication of defamatory matter if the defendant proves that –

(a) the matter was, or was contained in, an earlier published report of proceedings of public concern; and

(b) the matter was, or was contained in, a fair copy of, a fair summary of, or a fair extract from, the earlier published report; and

(c) the defendant had no knowledge that would reasonably make the defendant aware that the earlier published report was not fair.

(3) A defence established under subsection (1) or (2) is defeated if, and only if, the plaintiff proves that the defamatory matter was not published honestly for the information of the public or for the advancement of education.

(4) In this section –

proceedings of public concern means –

(f) any proceedings in public of an inquiry held under the law of any country or under the authority of the government of any country …”

Were the broadcasts defamatory?

Of the 32 matters complained of, Justice Flanagan determined that 76 of the pleaded imputations were conveyed from the abovementioned broadcasts, including the following:

  1. 1. That the Wagners orchestrated with others a high-level cover-up of involvement in the deaths of people at Grantham, in order to avoid being held to account for those deaths, and to protect their financial interests.
  2. 2. That the Wagners had plenty to hide in connection with the deaths of people at Grantham and in concert with others were knowingly involved in a high-level cover-up to ensure that their culpability for those deaths was never investigated.
  3. 3. That the Wagners were involved in orchestrating a disgusting campaign of vilification, bullying and intimidation to prevent the truth coming out at the Queensland Floods Inquiry and prevent being held accountable for the deaths of 19 poor, marginalised people in the Grantham flood disaster.
  4. 4. That the Wagners caused the deaths of 13 people by illegally constructing a dam wall across Lockyer Creek which collapsed, releasing a tsunami-like wall of water that engulfed Grantham.
  5. 5. That the Wagners were knowingly involved in a massive cover-up of the cause of the Grantham flood disaster, in order to protect themselves from being held to account for the deaths of 13 people in the disaster.
  6. 6. That the Wagners callously refused to admit legal liability for the deaths of 12 people in the Grantham flood disaster, when a man-made wall at his quarry burst, causing a veritable tsunami that killed 12 people.
  7. 7. That the Wagners sold their quarry in order to attempt to evade legal liability for causing the deaths of 12 people in the Grantham flood disaster
  8. 8. That the Wagners lied publicly in claiming that the embankment at his quarry was part of the natural landscape rather than being man-made, in order to evade his legal liability for the deaths of 12 people after the embankment collapsed.
  9. 9. That the Wagners were callous and selfish persons in that they built an airport without an environmental impact statement, a health impact statement, a community impact statement, a water impact statement, and without any compensation for people living in hopeless proximity to the airport.
  10. 10. That the Wagners in concert with the Bligh and Newman Governments and police, criminally conspired over a period of four years in a disgraceful and massive cover-up of the cause of the horrific and terrifying Grantham flood.
  11. 11. That the Wagners terrorised and vilified two ordinary people, Heather Brown and . David Pascoe, forcing them to change address and live in fear, because they threatened to expose the truth about their involvement in the horrific flooding of the town of Grantham and the deaths of a number of people, including a baby.

 

Whilst Justice Flanagan determined that many of the imputations alleged by the Wagners were made out, some were not made out. Furthermore, with respect to the broadcast of 27 April 2015, Justice Flanagan held that it did not contain any defamatory imputations.

The Wagner’s claim against Cater was dismissed as Justice Flanagan found that he did not expressed agreement nor conduce with Jones’ defamatory statements.

Defences under the Defamation Act

Of the imputations concerning claims that the Wagners had constructed a dam wall which had exacerbated the floods and caused/were responsible for the deaths of 12/13 people, 2GB and Jones pleaded a defence of justification under section 25 of the Defamation Act. Justice Flanagan rejected the conclusions of the expert evidence led for the defendants at trial and determined that the defendants had failed to establish the substantial truth of these imputations.

Of the imputations concerning claims that the Wagners had engaged in a cover up, 2GB and Jones again pleaded a defence of justification under section 25 of the Defamation Act. Justice Flanagan found Denis Wager to be a reliable and honest witness and determined that 2GB and Jones had failed to establish the substantial truth of these imputations.

Similarly of the imputation concerning claims that the Wagners had engaged in bullying and intimidation, 2GB and Jones again pleaded a defence of justification under section 25 of the Defamation Act. Justice Flanagan accepted the evidence of John and determined that 2GB and Jones had failed to establish the substantial truth of this imputation.

Of the imputations concerning claims that the Wagners had built an airport illegally or otherwise improperly, 2GB and Jones again pleaded a defence of justification under section 25 of the Defamation Act. Justice Flanagan once again determined that 2GB and Jones had failed to establish the substantial truth of these imputations.

Of the imputations concerning claims that the Wagners were selfish and greedy, 2GB and Jones again pleaded a defence of justification under section 25 of the Defamation Act. Justice Flanagan once again determined that 2GB and Jones had failed to establish the substantial truth of these imputations.

The defendants also sought to rely on the defence of fair report of proceedings of public concern under section 29 of the Defamation Act for 10 of the defamatory imputations, however Justice Flanagan held that they had failed to establish this defence with respect of any of the 10 defamatory imputations in question.

The defendants also sought to rely on the defence of failure to accept reasonable offer to make amends under section 18 of the Defamation Act. The offer in question was to apologise to the Wagners, pay them $50,000 each and pay their reasonable expenses. Justice Flanagan determined that the sum of $50,000 for each of the Wagners was ‘wholly inadequate’ and therefore this defence failed.

Assessment of damages

As a result of the above findings, the amount of damages to be awarded to the Wagners was the remaining question which had to be determined. Justice Flanagan found that the publican of the defamatory matters was ‘very extensive’, based on the audience figures (which only included city listeners) and the evidence of the ‘grapevine effect’ resulting in the Wagners being regularly asked about the matters concerning the defamatory publications. Justice Flanagan also found that “The 80 imputations conveyed are, in my view, extremely serious and of the gravest kind”. Justice Flanagan also observed that the Wagners’ evidence concerning their hurt feelings, including humiliation and feelings of helplessness were not challenged by the defendants.

Justice Flanagan determined that Jones had engaged in unjustifiable conduct and was motivated by a desire to damage the plaintiff’s reputation. In particular, Jones had acted with wilful blindness to the truth or falsity of what was broadcast, and the tone of the matters and their content were self-evidently vicious and spiteful. He had also failed to make any inquiry of the Wagners, to ascertain responses or to inform the Wagners. Jones’ conduct in repeating a number of defamatory assertions in the course of his evidence was also found to be unjustifiable. For these reasons, the awarding of aggravated damages was appropriate.

As a result of these factors, the court ordered that:

    1. 1. Jones and 2GB pay each of the Wagners $750,000 plus interest in the amount of $78,102.74 in damages for defamation;
    2. 2. Jones and 4BC pay each of the Wagners the sum of $100,000 plus interest in the amount of $10,643.84 in damages for defamation;
    3. 3. Jones, 2GB and 4BC each be restrained from republishing any of the defamatory imputations which they had previously published; and
    4. 4. The claim against Cater was dismissed.

 

Conclusion

This matter arose out of Alan Jones’ apparent conviction that a wall on the Wagners’ quarry had caused the deaths of 12 people and that a high-level cover up had occurred to hide this (among other claims). The problem for Jones, 2GB and 4BC was that there was insufficient evidence to support these claims, and in fact two flood inquiries had found that the Wagners property had not exacerbated the flood at Grantham. Compounding this were the gratuitous and unfair attacks on the Wagners’ characters, as well Justice Flanagan’s findings that Jones was motivated by malice and had shown wilful blindness to the truth or falsity of what was broadcast. All of these factors contributed to a substantial sum in damages being awarded in favour of each of the Wagners.

2GB and 4BC were vicariously liable for Jones’ conduct whilst broadcasting on their radio stations. This case is a good example of how serious allegations should be made and presented as fact by publishers when there is little or no evidence to support them. Such conduct can destroy the reputation of others, as it did in this case. The Wagners had little other recourse than to sue for defamation in order to salvage their reputations. Because the allegations turned out to be untrue and/or unproven, liability was established.

The perils of social media for twits

Posted on Categories DefamationTags , , , , , , , , Leave a comment on The perils of social media for twits

The laws of defamation apply to social media as much as they apply anywhere else:

A FORMER high school student has been ordered to pay $105,000 to a teacher for writing defamatory remarks about her on social media in what is believed to be Australia’s first Twitter defamation case to go to trial.

Former Orange High School student Andrew Farley, 20, made “false allegations” about music teacher Christine Mickle on Twitter and Facebook in 2012, a year after he had left school.

Mr Farley, who had never been taught by Ms Mickle, seemed to bear a grudge against the 58-year-old based on a belief that she had something to do with his father, also a teacher, leaving the school, District Court Judge Michael Elkaim said in his ruling.

“There is absolutely no evidence to substantiate that belief,” Judge Elkaim said. “The effect of the publication on the plaintiff was devastating.’’

Anyone who frequents Twitter (or other social media) on a regular basis would know that false and defamatory assertions are often made about people. In some ways it’s a surprise that it’s taken this long for such a case to result in an award of damages in Australia.

Another twitter defamation case that went to court is that of Liberal pollsters Mark Textor and Lyndon Crosby against former Labor MP Mike Kelly for a tweet Kelly published about push polling.

When people go on social media to rant, they would be well advised to be careful that they do not open themselves to liability for defamation. A right to rant is not the same as a right to defame.

Labor MP sued for sliming student

Posted on Categories Defamation, Legal profession, Professional negligenceLeave a comment on Labor MP sued for sliming student

Labor Member for the federal seat of Griffith Terri Butler is being sued by one of the university students involved in the infamous case of the Facebook posts which resulted in legal action by a former administrative officer of the University of Technology (QUT) named Cindy Prior.
Continue reading “Labor MP sued for sliming student”

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