Refugee activist Shane Bazzi will appeal a court ruling that found he defamed then-home minister Peter Dutton when he wrote the words “Peter Dutton a rape apologist” on Twitter.
The defamation victory for Dutton—the current defense minister, saw Bazzie ordered to pay AU$35,000 plus some legal costs.
The case centered on Dutton’s comments in a 2019 news article, which said that some refugee women at the Nauru Detention Center complaining of rape allegations were “trying on it” so that they could be primed for abortion. land can go to Australia.
Bajji’s lawyers at the time tried to use the defense of unbiased commentary on the matter of public interest, and Rai said his Twitter post was based on fact. However, both failed.
Federal Court Judge Richard White said there is no doubt that this is serious defamation and goes beyond the facts of the article.
He wrote in his decision, “It is understandable that, despite Mr Dutton being accustomed to suffering ‘slings and arrows’, which is an event of high political office, he found Mr Bazzi’s statement offensive and hurtful. Found.”
“It is a different matter than downplaying the importance of rape, or not taking it seriously when it happens, or taking any action that condones rape,” he wrote in his ruling.
However, White said that a “sense of perspective” was needed regarding the seriousness of the defamation, adding that it was not published in any mainstream media and was published only for Twitter audiences. In addition, Bazi removed the post after receiving a letter from Dutton’s lawyers.
“Just because it involves a national figure does not mean it is a matter of national importance,” he said.
The level of damages awarded, approximately $35,000, decreased from a maximum of $432,500.
On December 20, Bazzi’s attorneys, O’Brien Criminal and Civil Solicitor, announced that they would launch an appeal.
“Mr. Bajji would be arguing that the judge made a mistake in finding out that Mr. Bajji’s tweet has the meaning found by the judge, namely that Mr. Dutton ‘pretends to rape,'” according to a statement,
“The appeal will be held sometime in 2022.”
Dutton has vowed to take legal action against individuals who use social media accounts to write “derogatory” remarks against them.
“I’m going to start choosing some of them to sue because we … need a respectable public debate,” he told 2GB in March.
“A lot of lazy journalists pick up on these tweets and believe they are representative of the viewpoint of the larger community while they are not.”
He took action against Greens Senator Larissa Waters in March, as well as accusing Dutton of having a “rape apology.”
Waters issued a public apology and retracted his comments.