The target of an online shaming by ABC star Marieke Hardy has initiated legal action.
The post — which was erased from Hardy’s website soon after it appeared — accused the target of stalking her in a series of “ranting, violent” blog entries, ostensibly in response to the #mencallmethings Twitter meme that encouraged women to respond publicly to online critics. The post also encouraged readers to “say hi” from Hardy if they encountered the target in the street and included his name, picture, suburb and family details.
Stuart Gibson from high-profile defamation lawyers Gibsons is acting for the target. Crikey understands that Hardy, through her lawyers, have penned an apology but that the target’s legal team are now believed to be seeking significant financial redress and may pursue Hardy through the courts.
Hardy recently published a successful book recounting her life story and a second series of her television drama Laid will air next year on ABC1.
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The back story is a puzzling one.
In June, the target had posted on his blog a critical take on an episode of First Tuesday Book Club that featured UK novelist Howard Jacobson and Hardy reviewing DH Lawrence’s Women in Love. The post, since removed, is believed to have been mildly critical in its assessment of Hardy but dismissive of the show’s format.
An anonymous comment attached to that post was far more critical and echoed that of a vile hate site that had been posting personal details about Hardy for years.
Five days after Hardy’s original post was removed, the target blogged about the “absurdity” of his naming, quoting the “false accusation” line from Franz Kafka’s The Trial. The next day he appealed for help on Google support forums to reinstate his original First Tuesday Book Club review after he initially removed it.
Hardy claimed that her target had a “… bee in his bonnet about me for over five years”. Crikey understands he moved to Melbourne from London three years ago where he is a sometime presenter at Melbourne’s 3RRR radio station and a prominent web-based music critic. The target’s casual employer, a music review site, received correspondence inquiring into his identity after Hardy’s post went viral on Twitter.
Although Hardy apologised through lawyers Crikey understands she remains convinced of her correctness. Those claims could now be tested in court. According to Minter Ellison defamation expert Peter Bartlett: “The burden of proof would be on Hardy to prove the truth of the allegations that she makes.”
Stuart Gibson and the target declined to comment. Hardy did not respond by deadline.