Shane Bazzi wins appeal in defamation case over Peter Dutton tweet

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Refugee advocator Shane Bazzi has won an entreaty overturning a ruling that helium defamed Peter Dutton successful a tweet labelling him a “rape apologist”.

Last year, the national tribunal recovered Bazzi’s tweet, which work “Peter Dutton is simply a rape apologist”, was defamatory.

The tweet linked to a 2019 Guardian Australia nonfiction reporting comments by Dutton that immoderate pistillate refugees were “trying it on” by making claims they had been raped, and needed to question to Australia from offshore detention to person abortions.

Dutton argued the tweet intelligibly implied helium “excuses rape”. The national tribunal agreed successful November, ruling the tweet was defamatory and ordering Bazzi to wage $35,000 successful damages.

But connected Tuesday a afloat seat of the national tribunal overturned that decision, saying the tweet did not transportation the imputation that Dutton excused rape.

Bazzi had claimed 2 defences: honorable sentiment oregon the communal instrumentality defence of just remark connected a substance of nationalist interest. He mislaid some astatine trial.

But Bazzi’s lawyers argued successful their entreaty that the tweet indispensable beryllium work successful conjunction with the contents of the Guardian article.

“He contended that, if the tweet were work arsenic a whole, the scholar would person utilized the Guardian worldly unneurotic with the six connection connection to discern that the disapproval was directed astatine Mr Dutton’s remarks astir immoderate women making mendacious allegations of rape to get a migration outcome,” the afloat tribunal said connected Tuesday.

The afloat tribunal agreed that the superior justice had erred and that mean readers would person gone connected to work the Guardian article.

“The Guardian worldly centres connected allegations of rape, not the existent committee of it,” the tribunal said.

“When that worldly is work with Mr Bazzi’s six words, the scholar would reason that the tweet was suggesting that Mr Dutton was sceptical astir claims of rape and successful that mode was an apologist. But that is precise antithetic from imputing that helium excuses rape itself.”

Reading the nonfiction would marque it wide to readers that Bazzi had intended to convey thing other astir Dutton, and that the word apologist “did not person its literal meaning”.

“The scholar would recognize that Mr Bazzi’s six connection connection was intended to convey a derogatory presumption of Mr Dutton successful transportation with what helium said astir rape,” the entreaty tribunal said.

“The scholar would work connected to absorb, successful the fleeting mode a scholar of a tweet does, the contented of the Guardian material.

“He oregon she would announcement that its taxable is Mr Dutton’s scepticism astir the Nauru women’s claims of rape and his accusation that they had made them for an ulterior purpose.

“The scholar would comprehend that the connection successful the tweet consisted of some parts, Mr Bazzi’s six connection connection and the Guardian material, work together.”

The tribunal acceptable speech the archetypal judgement and dismissed the proceedings.

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The tribunal concluded: “It is not capable that the tweet was violative and derogatory. Mr Dutton had the onus to establish, connected the equilibrium of probabilities, that the scholar reasonably would person understood that the tweet conveyed the imputation that helium asserted it conveyed.”

“In our opinion, helium failed to discharge that onus truthful that the entreaty indispensable beryllium allowed, the judgement entered for Mr Dutton successful the sum of $35,825 indispensable beryllium acceptable speech and the proceeding dismissed.”

The national court, successful past year’s ruling, recovered a superior defamation had occurred.

“It is understandable that, contempt Mr Dutton being accustomed to bearing ‘the slings and arrows’ which are an incidental of precocious governmental office, helium recovered this connection of Mr Bazzi violative and hurtful,” the tribunal ruled.

But it besides recovered the tweet was published to a comparatively tiny excavation of people, and was not published mainstream media.

The tweet was removed soon aft Dutton wrote to Bazzi and the tribunal recovered that “ordinary tenable readers of the tweet would not person understood it to beryllium the measured appraisal of a superior governmental commentator”.

“Many of those are apt to person recognised it arsenic a connection reflecting governmental partisanship and, accordingly, to person not fixed it the aforesaid value arsenic they would had the connection been made successful immoderate different context,” the tribunal found. “Those who did work the Guardian nonfiction for which Mr Bazzi provided the nexus (it seems lone a tiny percentage), would person seen that it did not supply enactment for Mr Bazzi’s pungent assessment.”

The tribunal besides recovered that Dutton did not assertion to person suffered much superior consequences owed to the tweet’s publication, oregon adjacent that his “hurt and distress had continued to the day of trial”.

“There is nary proposition that the tweet has affected Mr Dutton successful his day-to-day governmental oregon ministerial activities, oregon successful his relationships with different people.”

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