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Defamation Apology to Grant Denyer

In recent years, there has been an increase in celebrities bringing claims against tabloid magazines for defamation. One of the most notable cases was that of Rebel Wilson and Bauer Media. Some of these cases result in large payouts but others settle relatively early, as is the case with Grant Denyer reaching a settlement recently with Are Media and New Idea.

Defamatory Story

The story published by New Idea suggested, in no uncertain terms, that Grant Denyer was having an extra marital affair with his Dancing with the Stars dance partner, Lily Cornish. It was also the front-page feature accompanied by pictures of the two.

The publication in New Idea was extensive. It was available for viewers to download on its website and also available in hard copy form. These are all factors which a court will take into account when considering the damaging effects of the publication.

Settlement

The parties have reached a swift settlement, with the New Idea story being removed. Given how quickly New Idea acted, it is presumed that no legal proceedings were actually issued.

New Idea have also released a public apology which clearly says that the ‘article was false’ and that Grant and Lily ‘have never had an affair’. These are massive concessions for a magazine publisher to make and may call into question the quality of their sources and fact checking procedures.

Truth Simplicitor

The apology indicates that New Idea would have failed in any defence of truth. The most straightforward truth defence to defamation, is the common law and statutory defence of truth simplicitor. That is, the defendant can prove that the matter complained of is substantially true. This would have required New Idea to produce evidence of the alleged affair between Grant and Lily, including any further photographs or information from sources who saw the affair.

Arguably, any opinion defence of New Idea would have failed because the affair was written as a matter of fact and any defence of qualified privilege would also have failed given the subject matter of the article and its widespread publication.

Avoiding Court

Recent amendments to defamation laws require a party to serve a concerns notice before legal proceedings can be issued. A concerns notice is effectively a letter of demand which contains information about the defamatory matter and what it has been understood to mean. In response, the other side may send an offer to make amends, which would settle the dispute. An offer to make amends must include an offer to publish a correction or clarification of the material and pay for expenses reasonably incurred. It is expected that New Idea made an offer to make amends, which was accepted by Grant in full and final settlement.

This procedure is a great means of resolving defamation disputes prior to significant legal costs and time being invested.

If you have any specific concerns you’d wish to discuss confidentially, please get in contact with one of our experienced defamation lawyers at Taurus Legal Management on (03) 9481 2000 or info@tauruslawyers.com.au.

Posted by Taurus Legal Management

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