Dublin, Ireland: The High Court has overturned a €50,000 defamation award made to a Dublin man against the operators of a shop whom he alleged placed a picture of him on the shop’s front door with the words “Attention Shoplifters”.
Maxela Ltd, operator of a retail unit in Tallaght Village called Rasputin in 2011 but now trading under a different name, appealed against the defamation award, made by Dublin Circuit Court after a judge found Karl Morrison had been defamed.
The President of the High Court, Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns, ruled Mr Morrison had not proven his claim of defamation and the court had no option but to strike it out.
Mr Morrison claimed he was defamed in June 2011 when he saw his picture attached to the front door of the store, which sold goods and foods from eastern Europe. He said the picture was brought to his attention by two of his uncles.
Mr Morrison (23), who the court heard was never in trouble with gardaí, claimed he asked staff at the shop for the poster, described as being slightly bigger than A4 in size, to be taken down but it was still there about a month later.
Mr Morrison said, after his picture was posted, he had to leave his address at Kilmartin Park, Fettercairn, Tallaght as people were making adverse remarks about him. He also claimed he had difficulties obtaining employment in the area. He now lives in hostels, the court heard.
Maxela Ltd denied the claims. A director of the company, Max Bulgakov told the court the store never put up posters of Mr Morrison or anybody else.
In his ruling, Mr Justice Kearns said, in a case with “many twists and turns”, he had to decide the issues on the evidence put before him and was satisfied Mr Morrison failed to discharge the onus of proof required to prove his claim against the company.
Evidence tendered on behalf Mr Morrison, who was “confused” about certain matters when giving his evidence, lacked credibility, the judge said.
Mr Morrison had told the court he used his mobile phone to take pictures and a video clip of the poster in the shop and shown the picture to his solicitor, the judge said.
Mr Morrison lost the phone before he got the video or images printed or downloaded, his solicitor Jillian O’Shea told the High Court she had no recollection of seeing the image and her evidence was not put before the Circuit Court, he added.
The recent Shreya Singhal judgment of the Supreme Court that struck down Section 66A of the Information Technology Act, 2000 as unconstitutional, has opened up pathways for wider and more nuanced debates on free speech in India. Now under judicial scrutiny are Section 499 and 500 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860, pertaining to criminal defamation.
During the hearing on a batch of petitions challenging the constitutionality of these provisions, the Supreme Court has issued notice to the government. The petitions contend that Sections 499 and 500 of the IPC travel beyond the restrictions enshrined in Article 19(2), thus constricting free speech beyond reasonable limits.
The Hindu had in 2003 filed a writ petition in the Supreme Court challenging the vires of Section 499, inter alia on grounds that it violated the freedom of press guaranteed under Article 19(1)(a). As the law stands, defamation is both a civil wrong and a criminal offence. In a civil action, a person may be sued for monetary compensation while a criminal wrong can invite imprisonment up to two years.
With the former being an effective enough remedy, the latter needs to be repealed. Under Article 19(2), free speech can be curtailed only by way of reasonable restrictions. Such a restriction must not be arbitrary or excessive, and the impairment of freedom must be ‘as little as possible’. But criminal prosecution in India can be incredibly harassing and intimidating, and have a chilling effect, thus being an ‘unreasonable’ restriction.
The government has sought a report from the Law Commission of India on the issue. A joint consultation paper published by the LCI in September 2014 notes that the respondents “overwhelmingly expressed dissatisfaction with the present state of defamation law”. Considering the need to repeal Section 499, it acknowledged that criminal defamation laws violated international norms, and that the penalty of incarceration up to two years was clearly disproportionate.
The recent history of defamation laws is riddled with misuse by politicians and corporations to silence the media, activists and criticisms. The spate of defamation cases filed during the 2014 Lok Sabha election is evidence of this. Defamatory acts that may harm public order are covered by Sections 124, 153 and 153A, and so criminal defamation does not serve any overarching public interest.
Even though Section 499 provides safeguards by means of exceptions, the threat of criminal prosecution is in itself unreasonable and excessive. This is not to say that defamation must not be discouraged. But decriminalising it will bring the IPC in accord with Article 19(2), ensuring that the means used to discourage defamation do not end up damping legitimate criticism.
NEW DELHI: A Delhi court today said it would hear tomorrow the arguments on the issue of framing of charges on a criminal defamation complaint filed by union minister Nitin Gadkari against senior Congress leader Digvijay Singh.
Metropolitan Magistrate Gomati Manocha, who was scheduled to hear the arguments today, posted the case for tomorrow due to the ongoing lawyers strike.
District courts lawyers in Delhi are observing strike till May 2 against the delay in tabling in Parliament an amended bill regarding enhancement of pecuniary jurisdiction of trial courts.
Earlier, Singh had contended before the court that Gadkari has not placed any “admissible evidence” against him in the defamation complaint.
Gadkari’s counter in the Delhi Court
Countering his submissions, Gadkari’s advocate had said that the admissibility of evidence could be seen at the stage of trial.
Gadkari, Union Minister of Road Transport and Highways, had earlier ruled out reaching a compromise with Singh, saying he would not withdraw his plea unless the Congress leader takes back his statement of 2012 on his alleged business links with the then MP Ajay Sancheti.
Singh, who was summoned as an accused in the complaint, had said “in my life I have never withdrawn my statement”.
The criminal defamation complaint was filed by Gadkari in 2012 against Singh who had alleged that the former BJP chief had business links with Sancheti.
Singh was earlier granted bail in the case by the court which, after finding “prima facie” evidence against him, had directed him to appear before it as accused for the offence punishable under sections 499 (defamation) and 500 (punishment for defamation) of IPC.
Calgary Ward 4 councillor Sean Chu has been sued for $275,000 for defamation by his former campaign manager.
In the statement of claim filed two weeks ago, Amanda Wilkie alleges that Chu, who was elected for the first time on Oct. 21, 2013, made defamatory comments when he spoke to a mutual acquaintance in November 2013 and on other occasions.
According to Calgary Herald, the former campaign manager says in the document filed that Chu told Lynne Walker that Wilkie “owes me money,” that she “took too much in expenses,” that she “mishandled campaign funds” and took “thousands of dollars” from the campaign fund and used them for her own expenses.
The plaintiff says all three of them remain involved in political circles in Calgary and that they all know and communicate with many of the same people.
Wilkie, who was in charge of the campaign plan and ensuring it was carried out, managed the campaign’s communications and marketing/advertising plans and ensured their proper execution, among other duties leading up to the election, alleges that at no time did she have control or access to the campaign bank account.
Any request for funds from the campaign bank account was reviewed and had to be approved by Andrew Chin, the campaign’s official agent, before funds were distributed, it is alleged in her lawsuit.
“The statements about the plaintiff made by Mr. Chu to Ms. Walker were and are malicious, injurious and completely false,” she alleges. “Such statements are extremely serious in nature and constitute a personal attack on the character of the plaintiff.
“The plaintiff has been informed that on numerous other occasions Mr. Chu has uttered the same or similar defamatory words, whereby Mr. Chu falsely and maliciously asserted that the plaintiff mishandled, misappropriated or stole funds from the campaign.”
None of the allegations have been proven in court.
A statement of defence has not yet been filed.
The Minnesota Court of Appeals Monday tossed out a lawsuit from a former doctor at the St. Peter, Minn., psychiatric hospital who argued that an MPR News investigation on the treatment of patients there was based on state data that should’ve been private.
Michael Harlow’s firing followed a November 2011 incident in which a patient at the psychiatric hospital was placed in restraints and stripped naked.
After Harlow was fired in December 2011, MPR News reporter Madeleine Baran, citing several sources, reported that the hospital was in turmoil and that officials didn’t give the staff any direction on how the incident should have been handled.
“He was maintained in a dehumanizing condition for hours without clothing, without [a] blanket, without a mattress, without a pillow, even though it was documented he was trying to sleep on the slab and was calm and quiet,” then hospital boss David Proffitt told Baran in her February 2012 story. “Those are things that are not common for this facility. They’re not acceptable for this facility.”
In a report several months later, Baran reported that an investigation by the Department of Human Services “found the facility and Dr. Harlow violated licensing standards, but that the violations were not serious or recurring.”
Harlow sued the DHS, David Proffitt and DHS deputy commissioner Ann Barry for defamation, and said Minnesota data practices laws prevented the details of his firing from being released.
The Court of Appeals, however, ruled today that the data given Baran about Harlow’s firing was public data at the time of the release, even though a separate investigation was underway.
I’ve been worried that the Alan Dershowitz Show is coming to a close. After writing a bunch of posts about the allegations that Dershowitz had sex with an underage girl, I fear the story is getting stale.
I mean, how many times can you invoke the image of the septuagenarian Harvard law professor romping naked on some private island? (In March, the judge threw out those “lurid” sex charges against Alan Dershowitz.)
Thank goodness a striking new character has emerged to give the story a second wind. And a bold face name to boot: David Boies, reports Reuters.
Boies and his firm are representing Virginia Roberts (also known as Jane Doe 3), who alleges that Dershowitz, Prince Andrew and other luminaries had sex with her when she was a teenager at the behest of billionaire Jeffrey Epstein, a convicted sex offender. (Roberts is also being represented by Brad Edwards and Paul Cassell—see interview with Cassell—whom Dershowitz has countersued for defamation.)
According to a statement by Boies, Schiller & Flexner, the firm is representing Roberts on a pro bono basis:
The firm’s pro bono program focuses on meaningful cases including trying to assist women and children who are the victims of abuse. Boies Schiller & Flexner LLP took on Ms. Roberts’ representation because she was a victim of abuse when she was a minor child.
While Alan Dershowitz has been less than flattering about Edwards and Cassell, Robert’s other lawyers, he’s had cordial relations with Boies. “I wrote him a nice congratulatory note when he did the case of gay rights,” says Dershowitz.
That was back then. Now, the two legal giants are locking horns. Beside the soured personal relationship, Dershowitz makes a much more serious charge: Boies Schiller has a conflicts problem. According to Dershowitz, Boies Schiller partner Carlos Sires in Florida had volunteered to represent him in his defamation suit against Roberts. After delivering a confidential memo to Sires about the matter, Dershowitz said he learned that the firm already represented Roberts.
“I wrote to Sires that you are such a mensch, and I’m sorry you’re in the middle of all this,” says Dershowitz. “But your firm can’t continue to represent [Roberts] because you’ve all read my material.”
Dershowitz says he asked Boies Schiller to recuse itself: “They answered no.” He says, “They are arrogant; they think they’re above the law.” He adds, “they have a long sordid history with conflicts,” citing the firm’s most recent sanction in Boies Schiller & Flexner v. Host Hotels & Resorts, in which the Second Circuit noted that the firm “willfully refused to recognize the obvious conflict” in taking on a client. (Boies Schiller has not responded to our questions.)
Meanwhile, Allan Dershowitz seems a bit offended that Boies is ignoring him. “I’m willing to talk to him, but he won’t talk to me.”
So will the legal drama/soap opera keep on going? Oh, yeah, says Dershowitz. “There’s more coming.”
A judge has awarded a Brisbane businessman a record defamation payout, including character attacks that will permanently appear on a controversial US consumer watchdog website.
According to The Guardian UK, Jarrod Sierocki and his business Insolvency Guardian have been granted a defamation payout of $260,000 plus $37,788 interest after being targeted by a disgruntled former business partner and client in online material suggesting he was “an adulterer, a fraud, a criminal, a liar, a conman and a sociopath”.
The defamation payout was four times as large as the previous highest amount awarded by a supreme court judge under a Queensland defamation regime that has capped damages awards since 1995.
Paul Klerk and Brent Thompson, Sierocki’s former partner and client respectively, attacked him on websites including the US-based ripoffreport.com, which forced them to acknowledge the material could not be removed even at their own request.
Justice Peter Flanagan, who heard evidence from a forensic computer scientist, said he accepted the ripoffreport.com posts against Sierocki were “extremely difficult, if not impossible, to remove”.
Hence the online slurs against Sierocki could “never be truly driven underground”, Flanagan said in a written judgment delivered on 17 April.
“Even today, Google has [Sierocki] listed on the first page of the image search results with a picture of a person with a black hood over their head with two holes for the eyes and one hole for the mouth which looks something like a Klu Klux Klan hood,” he said.
“This picture is hyperlinked to the ripoffreport.com website which I have already observed is permanent until it ceases to operate.
“As at the date of swearing this affidavit, namely 14 March 2015, the first plaintiff is aware that there are still at least three entries on Google alleging that he is a conman, a thief and a liar.”
Sierocki is running a separate damages lawsuit against Google for featuring the publications in its search results.
Klerk, who also set up a number of websites which published the slurs, was found to have separately defamed Sierocki by emailing his wife and claiming he had “had an extra-marital affair, took illegal drugs [and] was an evil person”.
Sierocki and his wife said that they had been “consumed by humiliation and embarrassment” over the online slurs, which had been constantly raised by Sierocki’s business associates and read by family in Germany, Serbia, Poland.
The distress had triggered depression and led to Sierocki “crying himself to sleep”.
He had been forced to resign from a Freemason’s lodge, the Knights Templar and the Knights of Malta, as well as his post as chairman of the Brisbane Spartans basketball club.
Former Olympic basketballer Shane Heal, a client of Sierocki’s, gave evidence that he was contacted by a person advising him to “stay away from Jarrod Sierocki, he ‘rips people off and he can’t be trusted’”.
Although Heal later became a coach for a new women’s national basketball league team bid spearheaded by Sierocki, he “did become very wary of him for a long time” after reading the allegations on the internet via a Google search.
Sierocki’s barrister Alex Nelson told the court that the “grave and widespread allegations” had left “a permanent stain” upon his client’s reputation and “vindication” called for “a very large award”.
Flanagan said the size of the payout was partly intended to convince people they should ignore the slurs against Sierocki.
Nelson submitted that, given the grave and widespread allegations together with the permanent stain that they would leave upon the plaintiffs’ reputations, vindication was the most important feature and called for a very large award.
Neither Klerk, whose solicitors withdrew from representing him during the case, nor Thompson apologised over the defamatory material or attended court for the damages assessment.
Chetan Bhagat has now a day’s become a target for controversies.
The bestselling author Chetan Bhagat has landed himself in trouble over his “half girlfriend” novel that was published last year in October. The author who usually hits the headlines with his remarks has now been charged with Defamation by a Bihar man.
According to media reports, 67-year-old Yuvraj Chandra Vijay Singh of the erstwhile royal family of Dumraon in Buxar district of Bihar has slapped a defamation case and Rs one crore. On what grounds? Well, the author’s recent book ‘Half Girlfriend’ has been alleged to be based on a family in Dumraon, Bihar and they have slapped a 1 crore defamation suit on Bhagat claiming to have portrayed their family in a negative light.
Singh, the eldest son of Maharaja Bahadur Kamal Singh, the erstwhile ruler of the princely state of Dumraon, has filed a petition in Delhi High Court for false and derogatory information about his family in his novel.
Singh has issued warning for further sale or circulation of the novel in its present form with immediate effect.
In the defamation suit, the publisher of ‘half girlfriend’, Rupa Publications have been named as respondents. Delhi High Court issues summons to Chetan Bhagat According to reports, the Delhi High Court has issued summons to Bhagat and Rupa Publications to appear before it on May 1st, personally or by a pleader.
In the Hindi version of ‘half girlfriend’, Bhagat has changed the name of Dumraon as Simraon.
But the erstwhile royal family wants the full retraction of the original content of the novel. Vijay’s son, Shivang Vijay Singh, a BJP leader, also said that his family told Bhagat to make the necessary changes regarding the content, but he has not taken their pleas seriously. In the novel, Bhagat has projected males of Dumraon royal family as gamblers and alcoholics. Chetan Bhagat and Rupa Publications had received the legal notice by the Dumraon family on November 14, 2014.
On Nov 24, Bhagat had tweeted, “Meanwhile, have to write letter to the family in Dumraon explaining the meaning of fiction and imaginary stories. Will do so privately.” On Nov 25, 2014, Bhagat had sent a reply to their notice in which he had expressed regret. In December, Dumraon family had said it is ready to accept “the offer of friendship” extended by eminent author Chetan Bhagat provided he tenders “unconditional public apology” and recalls all yet to be circulated copies of his bestseller, ‘Half Girlfriend’, which purportedly contained derogatory references to them.
Singh had expressed dissatisfaction over the e-mail of Bhagat sent to the Supreme Court lawyer Gaurav Ghosh as a response to the legal notice sent to him and Rupa Publications in November. Dumraon family sent another notice to Bhagat on Dec 8, 2014 and a third notice was sent on Jan 16, 2015. When Bhagat sent them a ‘vague’ reply, then the family decided to file defamation case against him. The erstwhile Dumraon Royals have been peeved with Bhagat for making “derogatory” references to them in his novel ‘Half Girlfriend’.
While Bhagat maintains that his book is a work of fiction and that it has no relevance to reality which means that the defamation claim is invalid. The author maintained that a family in Bihar feels they are a part of a fictional setup and he is not even aware of their existence to be inspired by them.
All of Bhagat’s books have been adapted by directors for Bollywood films and Half Girlfriend too will be adapted by Mohit Suri for his next film. These claims seem to be just another excuse for both sides to earn their share of fame!
Former NSW deputy premier Andrew Stoner says broadcaster Alan Jones defamed him by saying he “sold out” his farming constituency and gave favourable treatment to mining and resources companies in return for political donations to the Nationals.
But on Tuesday, lawyers for the top-rating 2GB breakfast host Alan Jones told the Supreme Court the term “sold out” is too ambiguous to be put to a jury.
Mr Stoner is suing Alan Jones and Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham for defamation over a series of five broadcasts in June and August last year regarding the contentious issues of coal seam gas and coal mining in regional NSW.
Mr Stoner’s barrister, Terence Tobin, QC, told Justice Lucy McCallum the broadcasts were “an extraordinarily virulent attack” on the former Nationals leader, who did not recontest his seat of Oxley at the March election.
Matthew Richardson, who is acting for Jones and Mr Buckingham, opposed several of the defamatory imputations pleaded by Mr Stoner.
According to the Sydney Morning Herald, Mr Richardson said he would not argue that calling someone a “gun for hire” was not defamatory but suggested it had not been pleaded correctly.
In the first four broadcasts, Alan Jones attacked Mr Stoner as “dumb as a plank of wood” and accused him of describing a group of anti-coal seam gas protesters at Bentley on the NSW north coast as “professional bludgers”.
Jones also labelled Mr Stoner a “gutless wonder” and an “intellectual incompetent”.
On August 29, Jones interviewed Mr Buckingham in relation to the Shenhua coal mine in the Liverpool Plains.
Mr Buckingham said “the first thing Andrew Stoner did … when he came into government was to facilitate one of the biggest coal mines in the heart of the Liverpool Plains, Shenhua”.
He accused Mr Stoner of “undermining his constituency, the farmers”.
They also discussed allegations before the Independent Commission Against Corruption about the former mining mogul Nathan Tinkler.
At the time of the August 29 broadcast, ICAC was hearing allegations that then NSW Labor government ministers Eric Roozendaal and Joe Tripodi had taken steps to help Mr Tinkler secure approval for a coal loader in the Newcastle suburb of Mayfield.
“Lots of money flowed from Nathan Tinkler and his interests to the National Party and after they got into government Andrew Stoner and [another Nationals MP] did the bidding of Nathan Tinkler,” Mr Buckingham said.
“They kept in train the process that Joe Tripodi and Eric Roozendaal set in place.”
In his statement of claim Mr Stoner says the broadcasts conveyed him as not fit to be NSW Nationals leader or Deputy Premier and that he favoured miners over the welfare of the community.
It says Mr Buckingham had imputed that Mr Stoner “acted corruptly in promoting the coal interests of Nathan Tinkler as a pay-off for donations to the [National] party”. Mr Stoner says the imputations are false.
On Tuesday, Mr Tobin said the mere mention of the ICAC created a “whiff of corruption” around his client.
Justice McCallum will hand down her judgment on which imputations can go to the jury on Friday.
BANGKOK (AFP) – A Thailand bookseller was sentenced on Wednesday to two years in jail for selling books that allegedly defamed the monarchy, the latest in a string of convictions under the country’s notorious lese majeste law.
Thailand’s Court of Appeals overturned a 2014 court decision which had cleared Thailand bookseller Udomsak Wattanaworachaiwathin of any wrongdoing in a case which stretches back nine years.
A bail request was set to be heard later Wednesday.
The 66-year-old was initially arrested in May 2006 for selling two books that allegedly defamed Thailand’s revered but ailing King Bhumibol Adulyadej during a protest in a downtown Bangkok park.