Dover, Delaware: A Delaware judge’s ruling has set the stage for a dramatic trial pitching a voting machine company against Fox News over the airing of false election claims made by then US president Donald Trump.
Today we’re publishing a series of lengthy legal demands sent to us over the past two months by Lachlan Murdoch, the billionaire chairman of News Corp and Fox Corporation, as well as our lawyers’ replies to those demands.
In the legal correspondence with the Murdochs that Crikey published this week, it quoted Lachlan’s own words back at him. In his 2014 Keith Murdoch Oration (Keith Murdoch was his grandfather), Lachlan Murdoch argued “censorship should be resisted in all its insidious forms”.“We should be vigilant of the gradual erosion of our freedom to know, to be informed and make reasoned decisions in our society and in our democracy.”
Despite Morrison saying this week that he wanted these laws “to protect women”, defamation is a tool mostly used by the rich and powerful, especially politicians and especially men. Related Article Sydney teenager Tilda, 15, uses Instagram, TikTok and Snapchat. Social media Dossiers and cover-ups: Facebook puts profits before safety, whistleblower reveals This year alone, Defence Minister Peter Dutton, former attorney-general Christian Porter, federal MP Andrew Laming and NSW deputy premier John Barilaro have all sued for defamation and either settled out of court or won. Greens Senator Sarah Hanson Young and former treasurer Joe Hockey have also successfully sued for defamation in the past. Dutton even suggested a few months ago that politicians should have access to a fund of public money to pay for defamation cases as a workplace entitlement. Yet despite Morrison calling social media a “coward’s palace”, in each of these cases the politicians were suing someone who put their name to their statements.
The High Court decision in the Voller case concerns whether a publisher can be held responsible for comments readers post on its website. Specifically, the decision applies to Facebook but would appear to apply equally to any social media publisher, potentially including this website. Indeed, The Conversation seems sufficiently concerned to shut down all comment and discussion on the case in question – an over-reaction perhaps.
Faruqi, a former editor of pop culture site Junkee and a former Greens candidate, launched his libel action last year after the former leader of the Labor party accused him of “aiding and abetting Islamic terrorism” and fostering “anti-white racism in Australia”.
But Justice Michael Wigney on Thursday rejected Latham’s 76-page defence and ordered him to “start from scratch” in trying to justify comments about Faruqi in a video on the Outsiders TV program last year called “The Rise of Anti-White Racism and Terrorist Plots in Australia”.
Generally speaking it is not considered good form for politicians to sue other people or institutions for defamation or insults largely because our democratic arrangements and wherever the Westminster system of government adheres, grants politicians open slather to lie, mislead, defame, insult and ridicule within the confines of the parliament under the shroud of parliamentary privilege with absolute protection from legal redress or from being sued. For a politician then to seek to sue when they are defamed or insulted tends to tip the balance of what is fair and reasonable very much in their favour.
The damages section also claimed that the newspaper’s labelling of Rush as “King Leer” and “Bard behaviour” ridiculed Rush and damaged his reputation.
Special damages alleged were that Rush would suffer “economic loss”, his reputation would be “irreparably harmed” so that he would be “shunned by employers in future” and he was asked to quit as AACTA president.