Dear TTF Australia Members

Some of you might remember a recent email from my TTF Chairman, Les Cassar
AM,
that outlined legal proceedings I had launched personally in the NSW
Supreme
Court again John Fairfax Ltd – following a malicious and defamatory
attack on
me, my wife and children, written by Ms Annette Sharp in the Sun
Herald in
January.

I
am delighted to report to you that via the professional assistance
of
solicitor, Mark O’Brien of TTF Member firm, Gilbert & Tobin, the
Supreme
Court
has this week issued a court-ordered judgment in my favour against
John
Fairfax
Ltd, including a significant cash settlement for damages, plus
full
legal costs.

Despite there being no confidentiality clause within the judgment, nor
Fairfax
offering any published apology, I have no desire to prolong this matter
nor
provide any more oxygen to this grubby and lazy piece of gutter journalism.
To
this end, I will not be issuing a press release to claim victory, restore
my
reputation nor reveal the details of the settlement.

However, I am happy to report confidentially to TTF Members, that Jo and I
are
very happy with the substantial settlement, notwithstanding the fact
that
Fairfax has refused to print a retraction, despite acknowledging their
error
privately. Perhaps naively, we hope that this very expensive lesson for
the Sun
Herald will lead to greater adherence to simple editorial norms, such
as
checking facts and questioning ‘anonymous sources’.

(It is appropriate here to mention that many friends in the media,
including
from within Fairfax, have contacted me to offer their support and
distance
themselves from this type of sloppy journalism, which they see as a
stain on
their profession.)

It would be nice to think that the pain we had to endure as a family
through
this whole episode (and the financial and professional damage it has
now caused
to Fairfax) might go some way toward protecting innocent people from
similar
experiences in the future.

It is a sad fact that having proudly served this organisation for over
15
years, my role as TTF media spokesman has obviously given a few
journalists
cause for thinking that I was in some way a ‘public figure’ who
deserved to be
attacked. I have worked assiduously for my Members over this
time to prosecute
a positive media agenda to lobby for good public policy
outcomes in tourism,
transport & infrastructure, and have never been tempted to
use this position,
nor my family, for personal or political advancement.

That the story was completely false, that the obvious mistaken identity
could
have been cleared up with a simple phone call, that it brought my two
young
boys into unwanted media spotlight and that it caused significant
distress to
my wife, children and extended family, just made the whole story
more
distasteful… and the legal victory more satisfying!

I sincerely thank all those Members and colleagues who took the time to
reach
out to Johanne and I recently. It was an outrageous personal attack but
the
support of friends, Members, my staff and Board helped me realise that
true
mates don’t believe the rubbish made up in gossip columns. Thank you
for
helping to sustain us through this difficult period.

Christopher Brown
Managing Director & CEO

CRIKEY: Check out our list of Australian defamation battles here

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