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FutureStarrBruce Lehrmann v Lisa Wilkinson - What is the Defamation Case?
Lisa Wilkinson, former star of the Project, is defending herself against a defamation claim brought forth by Bruce Lehrmann. According to this claim, Lisa and Channel Ten were "recklessly indifferent to the truth" regarding rape allegations made against her colleague Brittany Higgins.
To prove a defamation action against someone, the plaintiff must demonstrate that they were guilty of making a defamatory statement and it caused them harm - such as reputational harm or lost professional opportunities.
Defamation is the act of spreading false information that damages a person's reputation or business. This includes libel (published or broadcast) and slander (verbal statements).
Defamation has many legal definitions, but at its core it refers to any statement about another person which diminishes their reputation in the eyes of the public. This could be done based on either direct words in a statement or an inferential interpretation.
To prove a defamation claim successful, the plaintiff must show that the defendant acted with "actual malice," meaning they knew or published false statements with reckless disregard for their truthfulness. This standard is especially high when dealing with public figures or people of great influence in their community.
One of the most frequent questions we hear from clients is what constitutes defamation? Defamation law can be complex and depends on what was said, who it involved, and whether it served any public purpose.
Defamation is generally understood to be expression which seeks to diminish someone's reputation in the eyes of right-thinking members of society and expose them to hatred, contempt or ridicule. Even truthful statements can be defamatory; for instance, making an assertion which is deeply mean or disparaging.
The landmark New York Times case, which established the standard for defamation law, established that to be valid a statement must be published with "actual malice," meaning the defendant knew or should have known of their falsehood before publishing them with reckless disregard for truthfulness - as opposed to negligence on behalf of private individuals which must be proven.
That is why it can be more challenging for public figures to prove defamation. Private individuals typically have more evidence proving they were negligent in the publication.
Court documents indicate the legal team representing Ms Wilkinson will rely on defenses of truth and qualified privilege to combat the claims against Lehrmann, according to court documents. The veteran journalist has retained renowned defamation barrister Sue Chrysanthou SC for these proceedings before the Federal Court.
Public figures refer to individuals who have achieved notoriety and fame in the public eye. Examples of public figures include government officials, celebrities, sports stars and national broadcasters.
A person may be considered a public figure in a defamation case if their actions are related to the topic at issue. For instance, a bar owner who creates news by hosting an open mic night at their local club could be considered a public figure if his activities are of interest to members of the community.
Public figures are entitled to a fair trial and can sue for libel; however, they must prove the defamatory statement is false and that it has caused them harm.
Individuals or companies may bring defamation claims in order to safeguard their reputation and business interests. They may also have a claim against the publisher of any defamatory statement or publication.
In the Bruce Lehrmann v Lisa Wilkinson defamation case, the accused contends that Ten and Wilkinson broadcasts were "recklessly indifferent to the truth or falsity" of what they reported on, bringing his personal and professional reputation into disrepute. To this end, he has sought damages as well as aggravated damages for any alleged defamation.
The defendants have defended the broadcasts, asserting that they weren't making a direct statement that Lehrmann had been identified and were simply fact-checking claims made by Higgins. Additionally, they assert that Higgins wasn't the first person to claim sexual assault by the former journalist and they didn't know her to be a public figure.
There is no definitive answer to this question, but courts have determined that some individuals are considered public figures simply by virtue of their identity. This applies to most government officials and celebrities as well.
Additionally, other factors can make someone a public figure, such as having access to effective communication channels or being involved in an important controversy. In the Eramo case, Dean Eramo served on the University of Virginia's Sexual Misconduct Board; thus, her status was upheld by the court based on these elements.
Defamatory statements refer to false assertions that damage the character or reputation of another individual. When someone makes an injurious statement about someone in the public eye, or someone not usually associated with public life, that could potentially harm their standing, they have the right to bring a lawsuit against those responsible.
In order to determine if a statement is false and damages one's reputation, the plaintiff must demonstrate both that it is untrue and published with intent to harm. Although this process can be complex, it can be done.
Defamation claims typically have a statute of limitations, or deadline, which means they must be filed within a specific time period. In most states, this period is one year.
Last month, Wilkinson filed a libel claim that will likely need to be resolved by 2021. She plans on relying on both truth and statutory qualified privilege as defenses in her defence.
She will also contend that her broadcast of the interview was protected by a court order prohibiting false allegations of sexual assault. Furthermore, she relies on the defence of an honest investigation and the fact that these accusations weren't made public until later in the year.
However, there is one essential condition for these defenses: they must be proven on the balance of probabilities. That means the judge presiding over the case must decide whether rape occurred more likely than not.
Last year, a former Liberal Party staffer who had previously pleaded not guilty to sexual intercourse without consent in court, is using his case as the foundation for a defamation action against Channel 10 and News Corp journalists. He contends the reports were defamatory and have damaged his reputation.
He asserts he wasn't given a fair trial and the publication violated his rights to dignity and respect. Additionally, it undermined the judicial process which should operate on a presumption of innocence, according to He.
Publication is the dissemination of an untrue statement to a third person, either physically (via newspaper or flyer) or online (e.g., website). It can take place in many forms - written, verbally and pictorially - and it takes place everywhere - in print media like newspapers or flyers as well as digitally on websites.
Libel and slander are forms of defamation that involve legal actions taken against those or organisations who publish information that diminishes their reputation, exposes them to ridicule, or causes others to avoid them. Libel is usually the most serious form of defamation and may lead to substantial damages for the plaintiff in such cases.
Defamation law has evolved to balance the needs of individual privacy and reputation with those of free speech in society. It is a complex issue that is subject to significant judicial decision-making.
Defamation defendants have several defenses at their disposal, such as innocent dissemination. However, in order for this defense to stand, the publisher must act promptly upon being sued and have taken reasonable steps to stop further dissemination of defamatory information.
Defamatory publications must have caused actual physical harm or a loss in reputation for the plaintiff, such as harm to employment prospects, financial loss or other personal expenses.
Additionally, a publication must have been read by an adequate number of people and be easily comprehended. This test can be particularly challenging to prove when the work is anonymous.
Defamation law is intricate, with rules that vary from state to state. Therefore, it's essential that you become well-versed in your state's case law before taking any defamation action.
In many cases, the primary publisher of a publication can be determined by reviewing its production process, surrounding circumstances and whether the communication constituted defamatory material.