People For Schapelle Corby
Today parts of the media have finally reported selected parts of this. The full story is below.
DEAD MEN CAN'T SUE BUT THE LIVING CAN
Does defamation really come any uglier than spinning appalling fiction through a dead man, illustrating it with precious family photographs in flagrant breach of their copyright, and defaming his loved ones, whilst his daughter struggles to survive in a third world prison? Could a publisher’s ruthless pursuit of profit and prestige be any more squalid?
Last year, Fairfax Media journalist, Eamonn Duff, watched his false story, which caused acute distress to Schapelle Corby and her family, fall apart. His scurrilous collection of fabrications was exposed when multiple defamation judgements awarded considerable sums to multiple parties. On that occasion, over $300,000, was shelled out by his publisher, plus, of course, costs. This followed on from earlier damages, plus costs, for “flagrant breach of copyright” (the judges words), when Corby family photographs were used alongside the most sordid of written material. The book itself had been unceremoniously pulped.
Schapelle Corby’s mother, Rosleigh Rose, has now been awarded a judgement against the same collection of fabrications and smears, with a substantial payment for damages, plus costs. As in the other cases, the most revolting of false allegations had been made against her.
Unfortunately, as both Duff and publisher Allen & Unwin are aware, her husband is not alive to confront the equally baseless fiction produced about him. In Australia, ‘Dead Men Can’t Sue’. Note, however, that it has recently emerged that Queensland Police investigations revealed that there was no evidence to suggest that Mr Corby “was involved in the production of hydroponic cannabis” or that he was “involved in the distribution of hydroponic cannabis”… these are their own words.
As ridiculous as Duff’s manufactured story has now been shown to be, it is far from a laughing matter. It has been pimped for years by Fairfax Media and others. Real people have suffered real pain. The media continued to promote this poison even after it had been debunked, despite so many of those misrepresented within it coming forward to expose it.
Indeed, you also have to wonder how many of these individuals might now contemplate some sort of response or action themselves. Some possibilities?
What about Mr Neil Viney, who states that the falsehoods in the book led to him being shot, and bluntly tells Duff to “take responsibility for his writing”. Establishing what was to prove to be a pattern, Mr Viney also stated that Duff had never even spoken to him.
Or perhaps Mr Corby's neighbour, Mr Tony Lewis, who was built into the fiction and unequivocally dismissed the account as "fantasy". Again, Mr https://youtu.be/weFWCo4ItE8?t=12m47s
Or maybe Senor Constable Andrew O’Shea, who was quoted within the book, but who categorically denied that he had ever spoken to Duff. Indeed, when approached, he stated that had never heard of him. Equally, a similar situation occurred with Detective Sargeant Mark Andrews, who also stated that he had never made any statement to Duff.
Police sources generally were even more forthright in condemning the petty criminal whom Duff had used to spin the fiction around:
Interestingly, Duff later admitted, under cross examination in court, that he had made a payment to McCauley’s wife!
Yet another possibility is Noel Vinall, who features prominently within the very first chapter, and who flatly rebuts the contents as "bullshit".
One person who definitely won’t be taking any form of action is David McHugh. Mr McHugh was assaulted on the street and later died, just days after he had issued an ultimatum regarding Nine Network’s contemptible plans to broadcast a telemovie based upon Duff’s fiction. Mr McHugh came forward and provided dozens of interviews, spanning countless hours of audio recording. He covered in detail how the McCauley story was manufactured, his own interactions with Eamonn Duff, the harassment by broadcast networks, the sinister threats he was subjected to, and a variety of other matters.
Again, in Australia, ‘dead men can’t sue’, and litigation cannot be taken on behalf of the deceased. However, through yet-to-be published recordings, it is certain that Mr McHugh will still have plenty to say.
Regarding the deceased, it didn’t even end with Mr McHugh and Mr Corby, as Sue Ivers explained on an ABC forum:
Further examples, and direct interviews with a number of those misrepresented, are available on the following web page:
THE MEDIA PLATFORM
Whilst it may now seem ludicrous that this fiction was ever published, it is important to recall the huge media platform it was afforded. Despite all media outlets having been briefed on its true nature, Duff himself was presented on television, on radio, and across the printed press, to promote it. His colleagues at Fairfax Media plugged it relentlessly, and vilified anyone who sought to expose it for what it was.
On television, Nine Network promoted their scurrilous telemovie endlessly, fully aware of the pending defamation cases against its source, of the above material, and of the condemnation by the many members of the public, who were absolutely disgusted at the use of a dead man to spin such an appalling false story to the nation.
In contrast, the scale of the media coverage of the previous defamation outcomes against Duff and Allen & Unwin was minimal. Generally, these were brushed under the carpet. Equally, there was no apology or comment from any media organization regarding the long term support for such damaging and grossly offensive material.
Another aspect here is that of the conduct of Fairfax Media whilst the copyright and defamation cases were actually going through legal process. Those taking the action, particularly Mercedes Corby, were repeatedly abused and vilified by Duff’s colleagues. Does this not represent contempt of court, and an effort to influence proceedings? It can only be hoped that the authorities do take a very close look at the long sequence of reporting, particularly during the period of litigation.
Further background on this hugely disturbing episode, which raises serious questions regarding the nature of the Australian media as a whole, is documented here (originally published on social media in 2014):