Full Court allows appeal – overturns judgment dismissing Doctors’ claim that Book was defamatory

On 29 April 2022, the Full Court of the Federal Court of Australia (Rares, Wigney and Lee JJ) delivered judgment (Herron v HarperCollins Publishers Australia Pty Ltd  [2022] FCAFC 68) allowing an appeal Dr John Gill brought against a judgment of the Court dismissing his and John Herron’s claims the book “Fair Game: The Incredible Untold Story of Scientology in Australia” defamed them. Sue Chrysanthou SC and Barry Dean, from 153 Phillip, appeared as part of the successful legal team led by Bret Walker SC on appeal, and also appeared as counsel at trial.

The Full Court unanimously allowed the appeal finding that each of the pleaded meanings were carried, the publisher s30 defence was not made out, and the justification defence miscarried.  The judgment is one of the first considered appellate considerations in Australia of the operation of s 10 of the Defamation Act 2005 (NSW) when a party dies during an appeal.  The Full Court found that Dr Gill who had undertaken to pay the costs awarded against John Herron at first instance was entitled to press his deceased appellant’s appeal to vindicate his position on costs.

Read the full judgment here

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