I’m not hiding! Brisbane-based PR operative Lyall Mercer disputes Crikey’s suggestions that he has gone to ground, after we reported on Wednesday that he’d upped the setting on his social media accounts after being slammed for releasing the name of an alleged rape victim on behalf of his client, the Nauruan government.

“We are simply focused on servicing our clients in the manner we always have, rather than answering ridiculous questions no one in Australia cares about, like the settings on our social media accounts. Just because we choose not to give a particular journalist a response to questions doesn’t mean we are hiding,” Mercer’s company Mercer PR said in a statement.

The statement also hit back at industry body the Public Relations Institute of Australia for condemning Mercer’s release of the information, through an attached police report distributed to some journalists, which we reported on yesterday. Mercer PR says it is considering its legal position “in regard to the defamatory statement issued by PRIA”. The release, which can be read in full on Mercer’s website, continues:

“Completely contrary to reports, neither our client or our company has published the name of the person in question. We are not a publishing company. Only the media can publish and her name has not been published anywhere. Her name was not even ‘released to the media’ as many reports have said.

“Our client — not our company — merely provided background information from a police investigation to a very few media outlets who we understood already knew the details. The media release sent generally by our client via our office did not contain her name. Ironically one of the main media outlets condemning us and our client was not even sent the report.”

The argument that releasing something to journalists doesn’t count as releasing it was also made yesterday by the Nauruan government.