Defamation can be a very tricky business. Correction – defamation is dead simple, but avoiding defamation and the expense that might follow can be a tricky business.

Nonetheless, defamation is a particularly lame excuse for the ASX attempting to censor criticism of the ASX et al at a public company’s annual general meeting.

The SMH’s CBD column has a worrying story of the ASX refusing to release the chairman’s address from the Kingsgate AGM until various comments about the state of the market in Kingsgate shares were removed.

Kingsgate chairman Ross Smyth-Kirk has no such trepidation with the speech up for all to read on the gold miner’s web site. It’s a good spray, which CBD repeats without defamation concern, alleging that there’s plenty of insider trading going and that hedge funds and larger brokers are distorting the market.

“I have been around the stockmarket for some 35 to 40 years,” thundered Ross.

“I have no hesitation in declaring this the most manipulated market I’ve experienced. My observations relate to our stock but my informants tell me that it happens every day in many stocks.”

If a company chairman chooses to make such comments at his AGM, he’s well entitled to do so. He’s saying nothing that can’t be heard in any bar in the city where traders and brokers occasionally gather.

The ASX’s ridiculously heavy-handed response in barring the paragraphs though simply undermines confidence in its ability to know its elbow from its nether regions. It also suggests the precious souls must have been somewhat stung.

Wonder what they’re so sensitive about…

Peter Fray

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