Corrupt companies will be able to sue whistleblowers under proposed changes to defamation laws

Proposed new defamation laws would allow corrupt companies such as the banks to sue whistleblowers and social media users. If the laws had been in force a few years ago it would mean we would never of had the Banking Royal Commission as most of the whistleblowers who sparked the Royal Commission would have been silenced by the courts without a doubt.

The Guardian reported:

Corporations could be allowed to sue for defamation under a proposed change to Australian laws.

The review made more than a dozen recommendations, including introducing a “serious harm” threshold to discourage trivial matters from going to court.

It also recommended changes to make defamation laws better reflect the “changing media landscape” and to better deal with content posted on social media, blogs and other online publications. (Click here to read more)

Defamation laws have been coordinated at a national level since 2005.

Last Thursday, the NSW Government announced a push to reform Australia’s uniform defamation laws. It is calling for acyber-age reboot. That proposal was backed by a “statutory review” of the NSW Defamation Act. At a meeting of the Council of Attorneys-General, the states and territories agreed to reconvene a working party to consider reform of equivalent statutes around Australia.

The NSW proposal to allow large corporations to sue for defamation is particularly worrying. It would have a significant chilling effect on journalism. (Click here to read more)

Large corporations who abuse defamation laws to silence whistleblowers – SLAPP Lawsuits

The same as Kerry Stokes and his companies have multiple SLAPP lawsuits against myself many more social media users and whistleblowers will be silenced if new laws are legislated allowing companies to sue for defamation.

A prime example is that I did not publish an article during the week because I was in court on Wednesday for the Seven Network & Ors v Shane Dowling matter, on Thursday I was in court for the Jane Doe & Ors v Shane Dowling matter and on Friday I was in the Court of Appeal for the Capilano Honey & Ben McKee v Shane Dowling matter. All are linked to Kerry Stokes. 

As a side note, but still relevant, I was threatened with being sued for defamation by News Corp journalist Sharri Markson on the 5th of June in relation to an article I published on the 30th of May titledSharri Markson denies sexual relationship with 7 CEO Tim Worner but admits relationship with her boss at News Corp. The threatening lawyers letter came from Melbourne lawyer Justin Quill which is odd given Sharri lives in Sydney and so do I. (Click here to read the letter) It makes me think that the lawyer’s letter might have been paid for by News Corp.

I Tweeted the lawyer’s letter and also put it on Facebook. The website True Crime News Weekly wrote an article about it last week. (Click here to read the article) I haven’t heard from the lawyer or Sharri Markson since but maybe they might contact me in the future. It’ll be a major time waster for them if they do though.

Even companies like McDonalds have abused defamation laws in the past to silence whistleblowers. McDonalds ran the infamous McLibel case in the UK against whistleblowers that lasted 10 years.

Helen Steel and David Morris (often referred to as “The McLibel Two”)

Wikepedia says:

McDonald’s Corporation v Steel & Morris [1997] EWHC QB 366, known as “the McLibel case“, was an English lawsuit for libel filed by McDonald’s Corporation against environmental activists Helen Steel and David Morris (often referred to as “The McLibel Two”) over a factsheet critical of the company. Each of two hearings in English courts found some of the leaflet’s contested claims to be libellous and others to be true. The partial nature of the victory, the David-and-Goliath nature of the case, and the drawn-out litigation embarrassed McDonald’s.

The original case lasted nearly ten years which, according to the BBC, made it the longest-running libel case in English history. McDonald’s announced it did not plan to collect the £40,000 it was awarded by the courts. Following the decision, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruled in Steel & Morris v United Kingdom the pair had been denied a fair trial, in breach of Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights (right to a fair trial) and their conduct should have been protected by Article 10 of the Convention, which protects the right to freedom of expression.

The court awarded a judgement of £57,000 against the UK government. McDonald’s itself was not involved in, or a party to, this action, as applications to the ECHR are independent cases filed against the relevant state. Franny Armstrong and Ken Loach made a documentary film, McLibel, about the case. The movie is below.

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Capilano Honey & Ben McKee v Shane Dowling matter – Appeal – Click here to read the judgment: Capilano Honey Ltd v Dowling (No 1) [2018] NSWCA 128

As I reported last week:

The Kerry Stokes controlled Capilano Honey and their CEO Ben McKee have lost their suppression order protections and their second court decision in 2 weeks against journalists / bloggers trying to hide from the public the quality of the honey they sell which includes their imported honey from China, Brazil and Argentina etc.

The latest court decision lifting the suppression orders means the public will now be able to see all the evidence that Capilano have been trying to hide and all the media will be able to report the matter. (Click here to read more)

It is a stock standard SLAPP Lawsuit where a company is trying to hide what they are doing from the public.

There was a 5 day stay on the lifting of the suppression orders to see if Capilano would appeal which they did and I was in court Friday arguing against having the stay continued until the appeal hearing. I lost that but there were some positives in the judgment and the reality is the appeal is just another time delaying tactic. The appeal should be heard by late July or early August.

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If companies are allowed to sue for defamation it has the potential to undermine free speech and help facilitate corruption and will be just another tool to help the rich get richer. Obviously, there are companies lobbying the government to change the defamation laws so it could happen but not without a massive fight I suspect as many would rise up against it which the old media have already implied that is what they will do as they would also be on the receiving end of many more legal threats and lawsuits.

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6 Comments on “Corrupt companies will be able to sue whistleblowers under proposed changes to defamation laws”

  1. Brett June 16, 2018 at 11:22 pm #

    This is further proof that concentrated companies have to. Much influence on mainstream media in this country and are becoming a threat to democracy and society. I dont think the High Court has not confirmed the proposition that there is a separate test for business defamation cases? Is this currently the case here in Australia? This society and democracy is doomed if the freedoms of corporations are placed above that of individuals – flesh and blood men and women.

    “I see in the near future a crisis approaching that unnerves me and causes me to tremble for the safety of my country. … corporations have been enthroned and an era of corruption in high places will follow, and the money power of the country will endeavor to prolong its reign by working upon the prejudices of the people until all wealth is aggregated in a few hands and the Republic is destroyed”.

    U.S. President Abraham Lincoln, Nov. 21, 1864 (letter to Col. William F. Elkins) Ref: The Lincoln Encyclopedia, Archer H. Shaw (Macmillan, 1950, NY)

  2. Gripper June 17, 2018 at 10:43 am #

    Journalism is being forced to change, journalists under the increasing threat of unemployment have to become an apparatchik, or reclaim their mandate as the fourth estate, which seems to be finally happening particularly in the USA with the “intellectual dark Web”, Rubin , Rogan, Mccinnis etc, these guys figures are now blowing away the MSN. Breitbart, Zero hedge, Drudge etc are all adding to the mix, and generally through necessity are fighting for free speech and openness, so feared by the cultural Marxixsts.

  3. Pedro Alfaro June 17, 2018 at 10:54 am #

    If the Federal government seek to change the defamation laws to protect companies that may be engaged of corruption, that would mean that the Australian gov, has knowledge that the companies and its officers and management are acting in a corrupt way. The mainstream media controlled by Rupert Murdoch have much interest in the passing of laws like the one proposed and mainstream media will never Report on this issues. Only Independent Media like Kangaroo Court Australia and others can expose the corruption in companies and that of the Australian governments.

    Corruption News Australia https://www.corruptionnewsaustralia.com

  4. Diarmuid Hannigan June 17, 2018 at 1:36 pm #

    Interesting how the Judiciary across all Australian jurisdictions can work together very quickly when it comes to protecting their own interests and those of the rich and powerful but are unable to do so when it comes to respecting our families and our communities.

    In the court of nought peoples lives have become mere sport.
    The reveal-er of lies is now labelled a spy who will be tried.
    Legal Vultures will argue the point as the honest man is fried.
    We now live in the land of nought that is ruled by the court.

  5. Robert June 17, 2018 at 4:11 pm #

    The whistleblower calamity harks back to the last days of the Howard government when there was a push to put whistleblowers in jail when they ought to be given heroic protection for daring to expose corruption in the face of personal jeopardy!

  6. Joe Zidar June 18, 2018 at 7:29 am #

    We should be alarmed as every government Department & Agency is a Corportation.

    It is well know that Government try and silence those that attempt to expose and when one plays the game by their rules, they break the rules and there is little one can do.

    MSM are becoming pathetic and if it was not for a few people that report the truth about the extent of corruption in this country, most of us would be none the wiser appart from our own experiences.

    Governments don’t want people to share their injustices, especially when the Government is involved.

    With all these laws, WHY do we need Royal Commissions? The answer is simple, until people start fighting for Justice, nothing changes.

    While RC’s do expose the atrocities, how many victims miss out and how many victims never get to share their story?

    Keep up the great work!!

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