This defamation case should be a shot across the bows of various internet wide-boys who think ‘defence of truth’ or ‘opinion honestly held’ is some kind of magic elixir or Get Out of Jail Free card. It’s worth noting the oh-so-easy-to-reach-for-until-you’re-tested ‘truth defence’ in this case was abandoned during the trial.
In her ruling, released yesterday, the judge [Justice Patricia Courtney] identified about 50 defamatory statements published on Facebook and on a private website by Mr Parker and Mr Purkiss — members of the Justice for Robin Bain group — to which there was no defence.
She ordered Mr Parker to pay damages of $350,500 and Mr Purkiss to pay $184,500.
She further punished the men by awarding indemnity costs against them because they “behaved egregiously” in choosing to use the defence of truth at the trial last October.
The indemnity costs ordered could be in the region of $500,000 according to the report.
More often than not, it seems to me, defamation actions are a game a ‘Chicken’ — Which party has the nerve to hold out? Many such cases (and other litigation) are settled out of court. In this case, a four year legal action and trial (not apparently delayed by any argument about whether the online publishers of the statements at issue were ‘a news medium’ or not) has ended in significant defeat for those who carried out the online attacks on Joe Karam, however sincerely held their beliefs. One of the defendants Mr Parker has announced his intention to appeal the decision.
Listen to the language around the protracted online reputation attacks directed at Joe Karam, viz: Continue reading →