Refugee activist Shane Bazzi will defend Peter Dutton’s libel claim by citing his record as Home Secretary and a comment attributed to him in an ABC article that he did not know the details “she said, he said “Brittany Higgins’ claim of grated.
Bazzi’s defense, filed in federal court on Friday, denies slandering Dutton with a tweet calling him a “rape apologist” and argues that if he does, the defenses of honest opinion and fair comment should be sidelined. ‘apply.
Dutton launched defamation proceedings against Bazzi in April after warning he would take a more aggressive stance against false and defamatory statements made about him online.
The case concerns a tweet sent by Bazzi on February 25, at the height of controversy surrounding former Liberal employee Brittany Higgins’ allegation that she was raped by a Liberal colleague in the industry minister’s office in Defense in March 2019.
The tweet stating “Peter Dutton is a rape apologist” was sent the same day, Dutton revealed he did not disclose Higgins’ allegation to Prime Minister Scott Morrison and reportedly said he “did not not received the “she said. , he said of the details of the allegations ”.
Bazzi’s tweet included a link to a Guardian Australia article from June 2019 reporting comments the then Home Secretary made on Sky News, alleging women had “tried it out” claiming that ‘they had been raped and needed an abortion as part of a scheme to get to Australia for medical treatment at refugee centers in Nauru.
In his defense, Bazzi cites this article and the comment “she said, he said” to say he had “appropriate elements” on which to base his honest opinion, or that his tweet was a “fair comment” because ‘it was “based on facts which have been stated, sufficiently stated or well known”.
Bazzi noted that on February 18, Dutton told 2GB Radio about the Higgins’ allegation: “I have been here for 20 years, this is the first allegation that I know of, that someone was raped. There is no doubt that there will be other people who will claim to have been sexually assaulted or to have been in a situation where someone believed there was consent and there was not.
The defense noted that on May 6, 2016, the federal court ruled that Dutton had failed to exercise due diligence in relation to an asylum seeker who became pregnant after being raped in Nauru in the sending to Papua New Guinea for an abortion.
Guardian Australia’s report on this tribunal finding was “contained in the article” linked to the tweet, he said.
The defense noted that on August 11, 2016, in response to Guardian Australia’s investigation into the Nauru Files, Dutton said that although he “will not tolerate any sexual abuse,” he had “been made aware of certain incidents which have been reported, false allegations of sexual assault, because at the end of the day people have paid the smugglers money and they want to come to our country ”.
“Some people have even gone so far as to self-harm and set themselves on fire in an attempt to get to Australia, and some have certainly made false claims in an attempt to get to Australia,” Dutton told 2GB Radio.
Dutton’s case argues that the tweet contains the defamatory charge that he condones or excuses rape, which Bazzi denies.
Dutton seeks aggravated damages, arguing that Bazzi had “knowledge of the falsity” of the tweet, used “extravagant language” and had communicated with a large number of people.
But Bazzi told the court that between February 25 and April 8, the tweet received just 14 likes, 13 retweets and one reply.
Case against Bazzi follows an apology from the Greens Senator Larissa Waters that she had “no basis” to claim that Dutton is an advocate for rape or that he has sought to cover up and dismiss reports of rape, or that he has no sympathy for the victims of rape. rape.
In April, Bazzi’s attorneys, O’Brien Criminal and Civil Solicitors, said Guardian Australia Dutton’s decision to prosecute Bazzi raised “genuine concerns about freedom of speech in Australia” and that politicians “should expect to be subjected to unfavorable opinions and society has the right to expect a greater level of tolerance from these people ”.
“[Bazzi’s] the opinion was based on a number of publicly released statements attributed to Mr Dutton, ”he said in a statement. “Statements which dealt with matters of public interest and which would undoubtedly elicit a number of different opinions, including that expressed by Mr. Bazzi.
“A strong and vibrant democracy like ours should cultivate and encourage a wide range of expressions of opinion on matters of public concern.