May 8, 2012

Devamation: George Pell pursues legal action over a Deveny tweet

Cardinal George Pell's lawyers pursued legal action against Twitter after comedian Catherine Deveny tweeted a photo which Pell's lawyers say "conveys ... seriously defamatory imputations".

Amber Jamieson — Freelance journalist in New York

Amber Jamieson

Freelance journalist in New York

Cardinal George Pell’s lawyers pursued legal action against Twitter after comedian Catherine Deveny tweeted a photo which Pell’s lawyers say “conveys … the false and seriously defamatory imputations that Cardinal Pell is associated with the sexual abuse of young boys”.

Pell, the Archbishop of Sydney, appeared on the ABC’s Q&A recently for a one-on-one debate with athiest Richard Dawkins. During the show Pell said: “When in England, we were preparing some young English boys … for Holy Communion.” During the pause, members of the audience began laughing (others booed those who had laughed) and the Twitter world lit up.

Free Trial

Proudly annoying those in power since 2000.

Sign up for a FREE 21-day trial to keep reading and get the best of Crikey straight to your inbox

By starting a free trial, you agree to accept Crikey’s terms and conditions


Leave a comment

31 thoughts on “Devamation: George Pell pursues legal action over a Deveny tweet

  1. secondsoprano

    Brilliant. Now THAT’s an apology…

  2. Mack the Knife

    Way past time that these churches who have become political shills be taxed as money making concerns- the lot of them.

  3. ianjohnno1

    Heresay? How about hearsay…hmmmm?

  4. Edward James

    Would I as a property owner be exposed to defamation action if someone posted one of their comments on an external wall of my property? Edward James

  5. Damien

    It could have been worse for Ms Deveney… a less tolerant religious leader might have issued a fatwah.

  6. Molly

    For what it’sworth, I was educated by the Catholic school sytem. Although a failed Catholic, it does sadden me to see the actions of a small minority used as a basis to redicule the majority of hard working, self-sacrificing dedicated individuals in Catholic education and the Church. I recently attended a 40 year high school reunion. The teachers still living were so proud of the input they had to producing individuals with an understanding of social and moral values, honesty and integrity. Many of my work colleagues refer in derogatory terms to the Catholic “system” yet can’t define what the bigotry emanates from when pushed to explain…and many send their kids to Catholic schools…”because the quality of the education and teachers is first class” – their words…..go figure that one. Give it a rest. Aussies hate smart arses. The so-called “comedians” are of that ilk, unable to produce humour above gutter level. Molly.

  7. secondsoprano

    @SBH. Except she didn’t do anything of the sort. She merely quoted his own words. Out of context, sure, but it’s hardly in the realms you’re suggesting. He would have been better advised to let it drop and spend the money on social services as Ms Deveny suggests.

  8. kennethrobinson2

    It would be great to see George baby on the stand, being grilled by a good barister!.

  9. Steve777

    No one was making insinuations about the Cardinal and I have no reason to believe that he isn’t a good man. But perhaps this incident should have given the good Cardinal cause to reflect on why such an innocent-sounding phrase has the sort of associations it does when linked to the Church, its Hierarchy or its clergy. If all was well, people would of course assume that the boys were being prepared for a sports carnival, Holy Communion or whatever, with no cause for tittering or Twittering. Rather than reach for his lawyers, perhaps he should reflect on why the reputation of the Church is in the cellar, and direct his efforts towards deciding how the Church can best atone for the abominable behaviour of too many of its servants and how best to ensure that such behaviour never happens again. Silencing a few Tweeters is just not going to cut it.

  10. Meski

    Pell has obviously never heard of the Streisand Effect… (quoted from wiki rather than linked, and incurring moderation, however, if you start typing streisand into google, its the first thing to pop up (pell is starting to do that in google now))

    The Streisand effect is a primarily online phenomenon in which an attempt to hide or remove a piece of information has the unintended consequence of publicizing the information more widely. It is named after American entertainer Barbra Streisand, whose attempt in 2003 to suppress photographs of her residence inadvertently generated further publicity.
    Similar attempts have been made, for example, in cease-and-desist letters, to suppress numbers, files and websites. Instead of being suppressed, the information receives extensive publicity and media extensions such as videos & spoof songs, often being widely mirrored across the Internet or distributed on file-sharing networks.[1][2]
    Mike Masnick of Techdirt coined the term after Streisand, citing privacy violations, unsuccessfully sued photographer Kenneth Adelman and for US$50 million in an attempt to have an aerial photograph of her mansion removed from the publicly available collection of 12,000 California coastline photographs.[1][3][4] Adelman said that he was photographing beachfront property to document coastal erosion as part of the government sanctioned and commissioned California Coastal Records Project.[5][6] Before Streisand filed her lawsuit, “Image 3850” had been downloaded from Adelman’s website only six times; two of those downloads were by Streisand’s attorneys.[7] As a result of the case, public knowledge of the picture increased substantially; more than 420,000 people visited the site over the following month.[8]

Leave a comment

Share this article with a friend

Just fill out the fields below and we'll send your friend a link to this article along with a message from you.

Your details

Your friend's details