Aug 31, 2011

The not always rewarding history of defamation and political leaders

My own experience in this and other defamation matters perhaps gives me a different perspective to many people on the balance there should be between critical commentary and reporting on political matters.

Richard Farmer

Crikey political commentator

I still regard Jeff Kennett as a good and cheerful acquaintance with whom I have shared some wonderful lunches (and I hope I’ll do so again) despite having once met in a court room where I delivered an abject and warranted apology for saying something quite wrong about him.

The apology was, what I considered then, a fair cop though I still wonder about the amount of damages my then employer The Bulletin had to pay to end a separate defamation action over a related story. In the end my words did the Victorian Premier no apparent damage and, still hurting from paying a losers share of legal fees in my own case, I confess to a certain pleasure when Jeff subsequently lost a later case against The Australian. There’s something nice about the biter being bit!

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4 thoughts on “The not always rewarding history of defamation and political leaders

  1. Stevo the Working Twistie

    Referring to The Blot as a “journalist” is extending professional courtesy just a tad too far, I think. I do like the settlement idea in the last paragraph though. Limited News could offer a similar settlement, with a similar outcome…

  2. GocomSys

    Valid points.
    However, my other concern at present, and I wonder if anybody else has noticed, the war criminals Bush, Blair, Howard and others (Cheney) are again attempting to re-write history. They are still trying to justify the in-excusable. Don’t give them the chance!

  3. Gavin Moodie

    I wouldn’t have financial damages for defamation, but require a correction given the same prominence as the defamation.

  4. Edward James

    For a long time ratepayers have been frightened of bagging their local councils in print. I was too, until several years ago when just starting out as an activist, I shared a very instructive phone conversation with a Mr. William Ringland, of Ringland v Ballina Shire Council fame 1994. This good fighter went to the trouble of forwarding me his copy of the transcript of the Appeal Court ruling in favor of him and his codefendant, who had taken on their council Ballina Shire Council for discharging untreated sewerage into the sea. The judges felt that as the council was effectively employed by the ratepayers, it was only reasonable those ratepayers as the councils employers, should be permitted make their opinion of the councils work product a matter of public discussion. While I expect one day defamations laws may change I rely heavily on that Appeal ruling every time I publish my very instructive opinions of the very ordinary work product of my elected representatives at Local, State, and Federal level of our government. I am not in the same position as some media bullies who can and do abuse their power to pump up a story. I may only promulgate the truth, because to be exposed in a lie would destroy the credibility which supports all my years of published allegations. http://bit.ly/EJ_PNewsAds
    I am not a politician, it has been said I am a political antichrist because I have destroyed political careers. While I was not able to protect my father while he lived. I enjoy writing publicly on Crikey and elsewhere attempting to incite people to act for honest open political representation. Edward James 0243419140

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