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 a “cyber-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.
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 titled “Sharri 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.
McDonald’s Corporation v Steel & Morris  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.
Capilano Honey & Ben McKee v Shane Dowling matter – Appeal – Click here to read the judgment: Capilano Honey Ltd v Dowling (No 1)  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.
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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